2 Types of Dental Appliances Used for Sleep Apnea

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If you have been diagnosed with a sleep apnea condition, then the tissues along your throat and mouth fall backward and block your airway. This causes you to stop breathing during the night. Sleep apnea should be treated because it can cause your blood pressure to rise and it can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Some individuals choose to use a CPAP machine. However, some people find the machine to be bothersome. If this is your concern, then opt for a dental appliance instead. Keep reading to learn about the two types of appliances that you can choose from.

Mandibular Advancement Device

Mandibular advancement devices or MADs are dental appliance that look similar to the mouthguard you might wear playing a sport or when protecting your teeth from night grinding issues. The appliance features a top and bottom guard made from plastic and hinges that sit between the top and bottom of the guards. These hinges help to pull the jaws and the tongue forward a small amount. This movement keeps tissues from blocking your airway so you can breathe normally.

MADs are created with the assistance of a physical dental mold or a digital mold that is formed using your X-rays. Once you start using the device, you will likely find that you can sleep better, but you may notice that your jaw aches or feels stretched when you wake up in the morning.

Tongue Retaining Device

If you have a mild case of sleep apnea or if you are concerned about the discomfort caused by a MAD, then you have the option of working with your dentist and using a tongue retaining mouthpiece instead. The mouthpiece looks like a sports of grinding guard, but the devices will have an opening where your tongue fits into the device. The opening will lightly pull on the tongue and move it forward in the mouth. This helps to keep your tongue from falling backward and closing off your airway.

For some people, the feeling of suction on the tongue can cause discomfort. The discomfort is likely to subside once you get used to the device. In general, the tongue retaining appliance causes far less discomfort than a MAD device. However, the appliance may not help in situations where the throat collapses and causes the sleep apnea issue. 

If you have sleep apnea, then a dental appliance may work well to treat the problem. Speak with your local dentist about the sleep apnea treatment options that are available to you.