Sleep Apnea Mouth Guard

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.

What is a Sleep Apnea Mouth Guard?

Sleep apnea mouthguard

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:

  • Mandibular Advancement Device: Otherwise called MADs, the oral appliance resembles the mouth guard used in sports. These dental appliances help prevent the tongue from blocking the throat by bringing the lower jaw forward.
  • Tongue Retaining Device: Tongue retaining mouthpieces maintain the tongue in a forward position, increasing the gap between the tongue and the back of the throat.

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.

How Do Mouth Guards Work?

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.

Benefits of Oral Devices for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

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:

  • Much more comfortable than other treatment such as CPAP therapy
  • An inexpensive and popular alternative for CPAP
  • Improve the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, including snoring, teeth grinding and clenching, excessive daytime sleepiness, dry mouth, etc.
  • Works without electricity. Therefore easier and cheaper to use
  • Compact, portable, and hence travel-friendly

FAQs
What is the cost of a sleep apnea mouthguard?

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.

Is it safe to use the sleep apnea mouthguard?

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.

How long does the sleep apnea mouthguard last?

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.

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