Is disruptive snoring keeping either you or your partner awake at night? It may be more than a mere inconvenience. Roughly 25% of men and almost 10% of women experience obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a significant sleep disorder marked by loud snores, grunts, and gasps. OSA occurs when the tissue at the back of the throat temporarily obstructs the airway, causing breathing pauses (apneas) during the night. This not only leads to fatigue but also poses risks for various health issues, including high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease.
The most extensively studied and effective treatment for OSA is positive airway pressure (PAP). This involves a small bedside machine that delivers air through a mask to prevent airway collapse. However, individuals with mild or moderate OSA may find PAP challenging and often seek alternatives. Dental devices, also known as oral appliances, present a viable option for some people.
Three Main Categories of Dental Devices for OSA
- Mandibular advancement devices, crafted from molded hard plastic, securely snap over both your upper and lower teeth. Featuring metal hinges and adjustable screws, these devices can be tightened to push your lower jaw forward. While some dentists offer custom-made mandibular advancement devices, it’s important to ensure your dentist is experienced in sleep-related breathing disorders and certified by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine before opting for a custom device. Some non-certified dentists may simply take a mold of your teeth, send it to a manufacturer, and sell you the device at a considerable markup, sometimes exceeding $4,000. Moreover, if the device is intended for snoring, it’s unlikely to be covered by dental or medical insurance.
- Mouth guards, akin to mandibular advancement devices, assist in repositioning the lower jaw, though to a lesser extent. Products like SnoreRx, recommended by some sleep physicians, are available online for less than $100. Rather than relying on a dentist’s impression of your teeth, SnoreRx employs the “boil and bite” method. You place the device in boiling water for a minute and then bite down on the softened plastic, allowing it to mold to your teeth.
- Tongue-retaining devices, composed of a soft plastic splint encircling the tongue, work by holding it forward and preventing it from falling back into the mouth during the night. Despite their effectiveness, these devices can cause significant mouth dryness and discomfort.
Best Sleep Apnea Dentist in Rockville Maryland
If you are struggling with sleep apnea, we may be able to help. To learn more, please contact Hackley DDS today!