Most Sleep Apnea patients suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The tissues in the throat and upper airways become loose and sag obstructing the passage of airflow in the upper airway. Dental devices, also called mouthpieces, are becoming more popular as a treatment for the sleeping disorder.
A mouthpiece is also called a dental device or an oral appliance. A dental device is classified as a mouthpiece that has been molded to fit your mouth, teeth, and jawbone. In addition to treating Sleep Apnea, mouthpieces are also used to prevent the user from grinding their teeth during sleep and people with temporomandibular joint problems. If you are considering using a mouthpiece, you will have to visit an orthodontist to determine whether or not they are an ideal candidate for a mouthpiece or dental device. Not all patients are able to use an oral appliance due to positioning or structure of their jawbone.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recognizes the use of an oral appliance as an acceptable treatment for Sleep Apnea. It is generally used to treat patients with snoring problems, a common symptom of Sleep Apnea; many of these patients have problems with CPAP therapy. The main culprits of snoring are also severe risk factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: muscles and tissue in the soft palate and the tongue. When the tongue muscles or soft palate tissues become too lax, they cause excessive crowding of the upper airway’s passage for airflow. The tissue, especially in the tongue, can lose its tone and slide back into the upper throat blocking the airway. A mouthpiece is used to pull the jaw slightly forward and down. The tongue follows the movement of the jaw, and a dental device can keep the tongue forward by moving the jaw forward. The mouthpiece helps ensure that the airway will stay open and free from obstruction caused by the upper throat muscles.
A mandibular advancement device, MAD, is the most commonly used type of anti-snore oral appliance, or dental device, used by patients to treat Sleep Apnea and snoring. Most people describe it as looking like a mouth guard used by athletes. Although it looks like a piece of sport’s equipment, it is not used to protect the mouth from injury. In fact, this oral appliance works by forcing the bottom of the jaw down very slightly. Pulling the jaw down reduces the likelihood of the tongue falling backwards into the throat and increased to openness and freedom in the upper airway. Mandibular advancement devices are most effective for Sleep Apnea patients when the user sleeps on their back and they use other treatment options like Breathe Right nasal strips. The treatment is not effective for people who sleep on their sides or stomach.
The TRD is much less common than the MAD, but it is still a relatively common treatment for Sleep Apnea sufferers. In fact, the tongue retaining device was one of the very first dental devices designed to help breathing issues during sleep. A tongue retaining device, or TRD, is worn to keep the tongue in place. This mouthpiece is essentially a splint that is used to keep the tongue from moving or sliding back into the throat. This oral device does not require fitting from an orthodontist because it does not require a custom fit or any routine adjustments.
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