Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliances are worn during sleep to treat snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. These devices are similar to orthodontic retainers or sports mouth guards. Oral Appliance Therapy involves the selection, design, fitting and use, and professional titration of a custom designed oral sleep appliance that is worn during sleep. The job of the oral appliance is to prevent the obstruction which occurs when the lower jaw, tongue and tissues in the back of the throat become relaxed during sleep and collapse into the narrow airway space.
Oral Appliances Are Indicated for Use in Patients With:
- Mild to moderate OSA who prefer then to CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
- Severe OSA who do not respond to, are not appropriate candidates for, or who fail treatment attempts with CPAP Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other means of treating OSA. These means include general health, weight management, surgery, or CPAP. Oral appliances work in several ways:
- Repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula
- Stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue
- Increasing the muscle tone of the tongue
- Oral Appliances should be fitted by qualified dental personnel who are trained and experienced in sleep apnea and the overall care of oral health, the temporomandibular joint, dental occlusion and associated structures. We will work with your physician as part of the medical team in your diagnosis, treatment, and on-going care. Initiation of oral appliance therapy can take from several weeks to several months to complete. Once maximum medical improvement is reached, a follow up sleep study with the oral appliance is place is done to determine medical efficacy. Dr. Willey will continue to monitor patient adherence, evaluate device deterioration or maladjustment, and to evaluate the health of the oral structures and integrity of the bite every six months the first year, and then yearly thereafter.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
- Most people acclimate quickly to wearing Oral Appliances
- Patients who cannot tolerate or refuse to use CPAP now have a non-surgical alternative
- Oral Appliances are small, convenient and easy to carry when traveling and require no electricity
- Bed partner approved, discreet and quiet
- Easy to clean, low maintenance
- Denture friendly
Follow Up Care
On-going care, including short- and long-term follow-up is an essential step in the treatment of snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliance Therapy. Follow-up care serves to assess the treatment of your sleep disorder, the condition of your appliance, your physical response to your appliance, and to ensure that it is comfortable and effective.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is pressurized air generated from a bedside machine. The air is delivered through a tube, connected to a mask, covering the nose. The force of the pressurized air splints the airway open. The CPAP opens the airway like air into a balloon; when air is blown into the balloon, it opens and gets wider. This is exactly how CPAP clears the airway.
In addition to Oral Appliance Therapy, dentists who are oral and maxillofacial surgeons may consider a variety of methods to evaluate, diagnose and treat upper airway obstruction. These dental specialists treat upper airway obstructive disorders by utilizing both minimally invasive procedures as well as more complex surgery, including jaw advancement. Additionally, an ENT specialist may evaluate you for other types of surgery, mainly the removal of the excess tissues in the throat. It may be necessary to remove tonsils and adenoids (especially in children), the uvula, or even parts of the soft palate and the throat.