Treating Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliances

Treating Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliances
12 Aug 2019

According to a 2014 study performed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, over 5.4 million Canadians suffer from or are at risk of suffering from some form of obstructive sleep apnea. This failure to get a full night’s sleep leads to a wide variety of ailments and conditions that put a strain on the healthcare system and have a significant impact on the day-to-day lives of Canadians. Unfortunately, many Canadians do not seek out a diagnosis and treatment for their condition, which can have a negative impact on their health in the future. There are many ways you can treat sleep apnea, and with that in mind, here is a breakdown of how to effectively treat your sleep apnea:

Types of dental appliances:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine
  • Mandibular advancement device (MAD)
  • Tongue retaining device

Which device is right for me?

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine

While CPAP machines are effective for most people with severe sleep apnea, they are bulky, loud, and inconvenient. CPAP machines include a mask that goes over your face while you sleep. The mask is connected to an air pump, which ensures adequate airflow to keep your throat muscles open and engaged. This allows you to breathe more comfortably. However, many people struggle to sleep with a CPAP mask on their face, and others simply cannot wear a CPAP mask every night, as it requires you to have a power source available.

Pros of CPAP machines

  • Most effective solution, especially for moderate to severe sleep apnea
  • Better and more comfortable sleep

Cons of CPAP machines

  • Expensive
  • The machine is bulky
  • Some patients find them claustrophobic
  • It can dry out your sinuses, resulting in an itchy nose
  • Mandibular advancement device (MAD)

Alternatively, those who suffer from sleep apnea can try a variety of dental appliances to help treat their condition. One of which is a mandibular advancement device, also known as MAD. This dental appliance—with a similar design to a mouth guard—helps to position your jaw into a forward position to promote airflow. Many patients prefer using a MAD device over a CPAP machine, due to being more portable and easier to use. Simply slip the appliance into place before you go to bed and enjoy a restful night of R.E.M. sleep.

Pros of MAD

  • Portable
  • More cost-effective
  • Better and more comfortable sleep in any position
  • Customized to fit your jaw
  • Tongue and surround mouth muscles can get stronger, thus reducing sleep apnea over time

Cons of MAD

  • Can be uncomfortable
  • Jaw soreness or pain
  • Less effective if you suffer from severe sleep apnea
  • Can be costly due to a customized fit being required
  • Dry mouth
  • Tongue retaining device

An ideal solution for those with mild sleep apnea, a tongue retaining device is similar in composition to a MAD, but it contains an additional compartment that fits around your tongue. It uses suction to keep the device in place, preventing it from collapsing back into the airway. Tongue retaining devices are ideal for those who cannot have their jaw comfortably repositioned forward.

Pros of tongue retaining devices

  • Portable
  • More cost-effective
  • Better and more comfortable sleep
  • One size fits all - best for those who don’t want a customized fit

Cons of tongue retaining devices

  • Less effective if you suffer from severe sleep apnea
  • Excess saliva and drooling
  • Dry mouth

Although there are many ways to treat sleep apnea, there are many factors that go into selecting the correct appliance. It is recommended to speak with your dentist to find the best solution possible for you.

Why us?

At Guelph Family Dentistry, we offer form-fitted oral appliances tailored to your unique bite pattern and jaw size. Our dental professionals will work with you to identify the cause of your sleep apnea and address it accordingly. If your dentist is confident that a dental appliance is the best solution, they will work with you to customize your appliance for absolute comfort and effectiveness. Thanks to their small, convenient size, these portable dental appliances can be taken with you on vacation or camping trips, and they can be used when the power is out—something that CPAP machines simply cannot accommodate.

For more information about our dental services or to inquire about an oral device to treat sleep apnea, call Guelph Family Dentistry at (888) 588-1691 or contact us here.

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Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi
Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi

Dr. Omar got his BDS degree in 2002 from the University of Baghdad. He has also completed a master degree in Prosthetic Dentistry from the University of Malaya, Malaysia in 2009. Dr. Omar got his DDS in 2013 in Canada after passing the National Dental Examination Board of Canada (NDEB) exams. Read More

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