Sleep apnea is a serious, sometimes fatal medical disorder that affects around 10% of American men over the age of 40, and 6% of American women of the same age. Sleep apnea sufferers completely stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night. Normal breathing ceases because the airway becomes obstructed, causing a serious reduction of airflow to the lungs.
There are a number of dental devices that can be used to alleviate this condition. The goal of most of these devices is to separate the jaws and push them forward slightly. This slight repositioning opens up the airway, and allows oxygen to flow freely again. Wearers of sleep apnea dental devices report that they stop loud snoring, feel more rested in the daytime, and are much more comfortable going to sleep. Sleep apnea appliances work best on patients who are not significantly overweight. They offer a viable alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
Sleep apnea appliances fall into two categories: fixed and adjustable. Here are brief descriptions of some commonly used sleep apnea dental appliances:
ProSumnus Devices use a series of upper and lower arches designed to move the jaw forward step by step until you have adjusted to the ideal position. Your jaw will have plenty of time to adapt to the advancement. In the morning, simply brush your oral appliance with a gentle cleanser - no toothpaste please - and store it away. It is so small and discreet that is can be stored in your medicine cabinet or bedside table.
The ProSomnus Sleep Apnea and Snore Devices are the smallest and most comfortable made oral appliances available today.
Here's why - the ProSomnus Sleep Apnea and Snore Devices are custom-made with CAD/CAM technology to uniquely fit the individual it is fabricated for.
And unlike other bulky appliances, it offers plenty of space in your mouth in which your tongue can rest completely while you sleep. In addition, you can open and close your mouth, so you don't feel trapped in your appliance the way you might in some others. The ProSomnus Sleep Apnea and Snore Devices come in two parts. One arch fits over the upper teeth and one over the lower teeth. These two parts work together to hold your jaw in the ideal position to help you stop snoring.
DREAM TAP (Thornton Adjustable Positioner)
The DREAM TAP is the smallest, most comfortable member of the TAP family. It is a two-part custom-created sleep apnea appliance that fits over the teeth in much the same way as a sports mouthguard. The DREAM TAP projects the jaw forward to prevent the tongue and soft tissues from impeding the airway. The lower jaw positioner is adjustable, which means that it can be altered to suit the comfort level of the wearer. The DREAM TAP appliance can accommodate the three main types of malocclusion, and allows the lips to fully close.
Adjustable Herbst Appliance
The Herbst appliance is held in the mouth by clasps and friction grips. It is made of acrylic, and contains adjustable metal wiring. The advantage of this appliance is that the wearer is able to move vertically and laterally without dislodging the appliance. The Herbst appliance is usually used in mild and moderate cases of sleep apnea, and can also alleviate loud snoring effectively.
Originally designed as a nighttime TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder) splint, the Dorsal Appliance has evolved into one of the most popular choices for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. The two piece construction allows for patient comfort and lateral jaw movement. The Dorsal fins on the lower appliance interface with inclines built into the outside of the upper appliance to dictate a specific lower jaw position. The appliance is traditionally fabricated with adjustable screws in the upper appliance to allow for further lower jaw advancement. This appliance can be fabricated in a variety of materials including acrylic, dual laminate or thermal splint material.
If you have questions or concerns about sleep apnea appliances, please ask your dentist.