4 Things To Know About Oral Appliance Therapy

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Sleep apnea describes a condition that causes a person to stop breathing while they sleep. You may have sleep apnea, even if you don't realize it. Many people chalk their chronic feeling of fatigue up to too much caffeine or anxiety. However, your constant tiredness may have an underlying medical cause. Here are four things you should know about treating sleep apnea using oral appliance therapy:

1. Your dentist can help you diagnose your sleep apnea.

Most people are used to seeing their doctors when they need troublesome symptoms diagnosed. However, dentists often treat the symptoms of sleep apnea. Since obstructive sleep apnea, one of the most common forms of the disorder, involves the soft palate and jaw, dentists are often the best people to treat it. Speak to your dentist if you think you may suffer from sleep apnea. Describe your symptoms in detail. Based on your description, your dentist may make a preliminary diagnosis of sleep apnea; they will then likely refer you to a sleep study to confirm their diagnosis.

2. Oral appliance therapy is the right treatment for many people.

There are a few treatments available for obstructive sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure can be used to keep a person's airway open overnight; this is usually accomplished using an electronic device known as a CPAP machine. However, oral appliance therapy is equally effective, and it is a better choice for some people. Oral appliance therapy utilizes a small oral device that is easy to clean, pack, and transport. Many people find it more user-friendly and comfortable than a CPAP machine. Your dentist can discuss your options with you to help you decide on the right treatment.

3. An oral appliance will be made for you.

You may have worn an over-the-counter mouth guard to protect your teeth from bruxism in the past. These mouth guards are fine for short-term use, but they don't offer the same comfort as a custom-made appliance. If you choose oral appliance therapy, your oral device will be custom-fitted by your dentist. The final product will comfortably fit in your mouth, keeping your airway open while you sleep.

4. Consistency is the key to positive results.

Oral appliance therapy can relieve your sleep apnea symptoms. However, you must use your oral appliance consistently. Skipping a single night of use will lead to a recurrence of your symptoms. If you have trouble falling asleep while wearing an oral appliance, try sleeping in a different position. Sleeping on your back can help you avoid putting pressure on your oral appliance, which can make wearing it more comfortable.

For more information, contact an oral surgery provider like Cusumano Oral Surgery & Implant Center.