Could An Oral Appliance Help Your Sleep Apnea?

If you are experiencing daytime sleepiness and never feel rested, you may want to visit a sleep clinic to see if you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder where your breathing periodically stops during the night, so you aren't able to get a good rest. Besides causing fatigue, sleep apnea can make you more prone to conditions like diabetes or hypertension, so it's a good idea to address the issue so that you can improve your overall health.

There are a few ways to treat sleep apnea; one treatment method you can try is an oral appliance from your dentist. Some people may opt for over-the-counter devices, but they may not be effective since they can take up lots of space in your mouth and push the tongue backward, which could exacerbate your sleep apnea. An oral appliance from your dentist is ideal for sleep apnea since these appliances are custom-fitted to your impressions. Before you decide on an oral sleep appliance, you should ask yourself the following questions.

Do You Have Central or Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the muscles in your throat collapse and block the airway. Central sleep apnea (CSA) also affects your airway, but it occurs when your brain doesn't communicate effectively with bodily functions that control breathing. Usually, oral appliances work better for people with OSA rather than people with CSA.

Do You Have Mild/Moderate or Severe Sleep Apnea?

One study found that oral appliances weren't as effective for people with severe sleep apnea at reducing daytime sleepiness and quality of life. The study found that oral appliance therapy could help people with mild/moderate sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea severity is measured with the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). Hypopneas are shallow-breathing episodes and apneas are complete blockages of air. Your AHI is the number of times you have an apnea/hypopnea divided by the hours of sleep. If you have a lower AHI, like five, you may have mild sleep apnea; if you have an AHI of 30, then you may have severe sleep apnea. If you are unsure what your AHI is, you may want to visit a sleep clinic. Ultimately, if you have mild or moderate sleep apnea, a dental appliance could be a good option for your condition.  

Do You Have Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition where you grind your teeth at night. Some people with sleep apnea have bruxism as a side effect. While a CPAP device could help your sleep apnea, it may not address your bruxism. An oral appliance could be a better fit for your sleep apnea if you also have bruxism since the appliance separates your jaws and protects your teeth. If you don't wear an appliance, the strong vertical forces of teeth grinding can cause sensitivity, enamel fractures, gum recession, and headaches. So, if you have these types of symptoms, along with your daytime fatigue, an oral appliance could be a better fit than other therapies.

As you can see, if you have mild/moderate obstructive sleep apnea, as well as bruxism, an oral appliance could be a great fit. Reach out to your dentist for more details about sleep apnea oral appliances.