Some dentists are recommending a dental appliance similar to a mouth-guard as an alternative to traditional treatment methods for obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea affects between 12 and 18 million Americans on a nightly basis, and many use a CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, machine to assist in regulating their breathing while they sleep. The dental appliance is quieter, easy to care for, and portable. Many patients find the use of the CPAP machine to be obstructive and potentially damaging to their relationships. The machines include a face mask, tubing, and a motor, making them hard to adapt to. Dentists can make a dental device to either move the jaw or hold the tongue still while the wearer sleeps. The devices are custom-made to each individual to ensure it provides relief to the specific problem causing the apnea.
While some cases of sleep apnea require a CPAP machine, over 80 different oral devices have been cleared by the FDA and used to provide relief in some patients. Dentists suggest looking into the devices if patients are unhappy with CPAP treatment.