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Dental Devices

Dental devices or oral appliances are the most effective option for patients who have not been able to tolerate the conventional use of CPAP. This is mostly advantageous for patients suffering from mild to moderate sleep apnea.

sleep apnea dental device

Dental devices are made to open the airway so that a person can breathe more easily at night. For many this is much easier to use than an unwieldy CPAP machine, with hose and facial mask. Many patients who have given up on CPAP have opted for dental devices.

Nowadays many doctors are prescribing dental devices for their patients. Patients using any of these devices should have a check up regularly with their physician and dentist, to see if it is ultimately working. The dental device might be needed to be adjusted or replaced periodically.

There are different types of dental devices available in the market today. Some are FDA approved to treat only snoring and other are used for the treatment of Sleep Apnea. But it should only be used under the supervision of a dentist or orthodontist. Some of the devices that are most commonly used are Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) which looks like a mouth guard that athletes wear.

This device forces the lower jaw forward and down slightly, which keeps the airway open. Another such device is the Tongue Retraining Device also known as TRD. This looks like a splint and is usually used to hold the tongue in place and thereby keep the air passage as open as possible.

Patients should note that these dental devices will be fitted by dentists. It may take several weeks to get used to the device, but most people find them comfortable to wear during the time of sleeping. If the dental device causes pain, the patient should discuss that with their dentist immediately.

Advantages of dental devices

1. They are easier to use and easier to maintain when compared to the other complicated devices like CPAP.
2. The patient can continue with this treatment of sleep apnea for a much longer time getting much more relief.
3. Improvement in sleep in many patients
4. It is noticed that there is extraordinary reduction in snoring in many patients
5. Dental devices are small in size and as such can be conveniently used even when a patient is traveling.
6. In certain cases of sleep apnea, it is considered to be much more effective than surgery.

Disadvantages of dental devices

1. Despite the advantages in terms of usage, dental devices are not yet as effective as CPAP in conquering sleep apnea.
2. The major disadvantage is that dental devices are effective only when they are properly used by the patient. As such it has to be under constant and regular physician supervision or through polysomnography.
3. This method is not very effective for patients suffering from severe sleep apnea.
4. Dental devices may produce side effects like soreness; damage to the jaw, teeth, and mouth; saliva build-up; nausea; permanent change in the position of the jaw or teeth.
5. Permanent changes in the position of teeth and jaw occur in some cases where patients use it on a long term basis.