According to the American Sleep Association, more than 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, both diagnosed and undiagnosed.
Sleep apnea is a condition where the upper airway collapses during sleep. People with sleep apnea breathe shallow or even stop breathing during sleep. One of the most effective and non-invasive treatment options used to treat sleep apnea is the sleep apnea mouthguard.
Although a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is the widely accepted treatment for sleep apnea, not all patients tolerate it. People experience claustrophobia, dry nasal passages, skin irritation, to name a few. A mouthguard can be an efficient and practical alternative to CPAP.
Sleep apnea mouth guards are dental devices that cover your teeth and prevent your airway from collapsing when you sleep. They improve upper airway configuration by altering the jaw and tongue positions.
Mouthguards are typically fitted by qualified dentists according to your needs and are an alternative treatment for those who cannot tolerate a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. While there are quite a few different types, it is better to get a custom-fitted one through your dentist.
Dental devices can be pretty helpful if you have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. They are also used as a cost-effective and less invasive substitute for a CPAP or patients who cannot tolerate it.
Sleep Apnea mouthguards can either be:
The over the counter substitutes include a stock mouthguard and boil-and-bite mouthguard, which are primarily one-size-fits-all options. These devices are not well fitting and can cause long term complications.
Mandibular Advancement devices are essentially two pieces that fit your upper and lower teeth with a connecting component that connects both. The hinges allow you to control the degree of advancement. MAD works by shifting the lower jaw forward, thereby preventing the jaw from blocking the upper airway while allowing for easy breathing.
The tongue retaining mouthguard is similar to the MADs. Additionally, it has a small compartment that sucks the tongue keeping it in position to retain the airway open. These dental devices are generally used in patients whose jaws cannot be repositioned.
Oral devices may provide some measure of relief to people suffering from mild sleep apnea. When used consistently and under the guidance of a dentist, most patients see an improvement in sleep quality. Since they are easy to use, oral appliances have a much better compliance ratio than other treatment options.
The benefits of mouthguards include:
The cost of the mouthguard depends on the actual mouthpiece, dental visit, any adjustments if necessary, follow-up visits, and modifications to the dental device itself.
Yes! It is safe to use the mouthguard at night, as explained by the doctor. You may face some side effects like jaw pain initially; however, they can help your sleep disorder significantly.
A mouthguard can last as long as two years. However, it depends on the wear and tear. Once worn down, the appliance is less effective.