Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which tissues in and around the throat collapse, causing the person to wake briefly to clear their airways. Unfortunately, this can happen many times a night, which can lead to morning headaches and exhaustion throughout the day. Furthermore, untreated sleep apnea can lead to a host of health complications, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and even stroke.
Sleep apnea can be managed with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which is a device that supplies a continuous flow of air to keep the airways open. However, you must wear a mask, and many people report that they don’t like sleeping with the mask on. Furthermore, the devices can be cumbersome and can be tricky to keep clean.
The good news is that a CPAP machine isn’t the only option for getting a good night’s sleep. Oral appliances can also help keep your airways open, and they’re available here at The Woodlands Dental Group in The Woodlands, Texas.
In this blog, David Epstein, DDS, and Nikita Vakil, DMD, explain what oral appliances are and how they can improve sleep.
As opposed to wearing a mask on the outside of your mouth and nose, an oral appliance fits inside your mouth, like a mouthguard. And while there are different types of oral appliances, they all aim to prevent anything from blocking your airways.
Here at The Woodlands Dental Group, we offer mandibular repositioning devices (MRDs). These devices gently push your tongue and jaw forward, enabling you to breathe normally as you sleep.
Each MRD is custom-made and designed based on your unique anatomy. And, as part of your treatment, we check in with you every few months to make sure your device is working effectively. And if something isn’t quite right, we can make adjustments.
Now that we’ve covered what oral appliances are, let’s take a look at some of the reasons to consider one:
As mentioned, oral appliances are similar to a mouthguard. That means they’re easy to use. You simply insert the device into your mouth, and that’s it! There’s no need to mess with masks or tubing.
Not only are oral appliances easy to use, but they’re also easy to clean. You just clean your device daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste (or a clear antibacterial soap), rinse it, dry it thoroughly, and store it in the provided case.
You may also consider “deep cleaning” it occasionally with a denture-soaking solution. Do know, however, that you should avoid using hot water on your oral appliance.
Oral appliances are effective in that they keep your airways open while you sleep. But, just as important, they do this without a lot of hassle. With a CPAP machine, you need to have access to an outlet to power your machine, you need to have room to store it, and so on.
Oral devices, on the other hand, are simple to use and easy to store. This means if you need to travel, you can experience the same high-quality sleep without all the trouble.
Snoring can leave your throat dry, and it’s also a risk factor for chronic daily headaches. Wearing your oral appliance can help reduce the snoring associated with airway obstruction. And less snoring can equal a more restful night of sleep.
Although surgery isn’t the first line of defense against sleep apnea, surgery can be used to treat sleep apnea. There are many types of surgery, and the goal is to correct whatever is contributing to your symptoms, whether that’s excess tissue in and around your throat or something else.
One of the benefits of wearing an MRD is that it’s a nonsurgical option. It holds your jaw and tongue in just the right positions to keep them from blocking your airways.
While an oral device can help you sleep better, the benefits go well beyond waking up rested. Getting quality sleep can help your entire body in many ways. For example, getting good sleep can do the following:
As a Dreamsleep Certified Provider, Dr. Epstein knows firsthand how an oral device can be the gateway to restful sleep. If you have sleep-related issues and want to see if an oral appliance can help you, Dr. Epstein can give you a thorough evaluation and discuss your next steps.
To learn more, call 281-367-3085 to book an appointment with The Woodlands Dental Group today.