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Oral Appliance Therapy

Man peacefully sleeps while wearing a CPAP maskOral appliance therapy involves wearing an oral appliance or device to treat sleep apnea. The oral appliance worn helps to keep the upper airway open and free by either holding the jaw in a forward position or holding the tongue down. It is most effective in patients who have mild to moderate sleep apnea. Custom-fit oral appliances from our dental professionals are one of the best options for treating sleep apnea. Oral appliances are usually removable. Oral appliance therapy is available at Peninsula Family Dental Center where we can provide you with feasible solutions to treat sleep apnea and snoring.

Types of Oral Health Appliances

Many of the different oral devices used to treat sleep apnea are either tongue retaining devices or mandibular repositioning devices (MRDs). The mandibular repositioning devices are the most commonly used oral appliances. They look similar to sports mouthguards. A mandibular repositioning device is a device use to reposition the jaw forward and downward to keep the airway open while you sleep. The device attaches to the upper and lower dental arches. As a result, a mandibular repositioning device used by a child must be re-fitted regularly as the child grows. These devices also have metal hinges that can enable you to ease the lower jaw forward. Some mandibular repositioning devices enable you to control the degree to which the jaw is thrust forward.

Tongue retaining devices are not as common as mandibular repositioning devices. They are also known as tongue stabilizing devices (TSD). Tongue retaining devices are usually made from plastic or silicon resin. They help keep the tongue in position and keep the airway open while you sleep. They prevent the tongue from dropping backwards. Tongue retaining devices have an anterior section or bulb which has to be squeezed just before it worn. The tongue is drawn forward into this bulb by the means of suction and is kept in between the lips while you sleep.

Caring for Your Oral Device

These oral devices, just like other dental prosthetics, should be kept clean so they do not serve as a means of infection transfer. Ensure that your teeth are clean before you put on your oral device by brushing your teeth before you put it on. Rinse your oral device with water after using it to take off the coat of saliva around it. Do not use toothpaste on your oral device. Instead, regularly wash your oral device with soap and water and rinse it with cool, clean water afterwards. When not in use, put away your oral device in a clean case and store the case in a cool, clean, and dry place. To reduce the chance of contamination and hence infection, avoid taking your oral device out of your mouth too many times. Make sure to regularly check with our dental professionals for the right positioning and replace the device when necessary.

Additional Information

Not only do oral devices help treat sleep apnea and snoring, they also reduce the risk of developing systemic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. They also improve sleep quality, your daytime alertness, and productivity. These oral devices can be used anywhere and anytime as compared to the continuous positive air pressure therapy (CPAP) that is not as portable. If you are fitted with an oral device, be sure to go for checkups early and regularly so our dental professionals can ascertain if the oral device is working or not. If you notice a change in your bite or persistent soreness or pain in either of your temporomandibular joints, do not hesitate to call our office.

Oral appliance therapy is beneficial in treating many cases of sleep apnea. If you are thinking of undergoing oral appliance therapy to manage sleep apnea and snoring, contact Peninsula Family Dental Center by calling (907) 283-9125 today.
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