How a Dental Oral Appliance Can Help With Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Posted on: April 3, 2019

Many people do not realize that their dentist is one of the best people to talk to learn more about an oral appliance to help with the issue of snoring and sleep apnea. People can get help from their general doctor who will typically refer them for a sleep study. But, a dentist can have other possible options that their general doctor would not.

The most well-known sleep apnea treatment is using a CPAP machine. But, some people do not prefer this method and want to look for alternatives. In those cases, a dentist will be the best opportunity to find an alternative approach. One such approach is referred to as an oral appliance. It is exceptionally effective in treating sleep apnea.

What is an oral appliance and how does it help obstructive sleep apnea?

It should be understood that whether a person speaks to their dentist or general doctor, one of the first things that will need to be done is an official sleep study. This will give the dentist information about the severity of sleep apnea and other useful information. They will use this information to make the best suggestions for treating the symptoms that an oral dental appliance could be helpful in treating.

There are two main types of dental appliances to help with sleep apnea. These are either MADs or tongue retaining mouthpieces. The two work in different ways, but both are just as good of a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea as the widely known CPAP machines.

Mandibular advancement devices (MADs)

This option for treatment looks very similar to mouth guards used in sports and orthopedic retainers. How this device works is by being snapped into place and fitted over the upper and lower dental arches of the mouth. The device has metal hinges that connect the two pieces.

When in place, the MAD slightly pushes the lower jaw and tongue forward and helps keep the throat muscles from collapsing. By avoiding this collapse, the issue of the airway closing and causing breathing to stop is avoided.

Most MADs are adjustable. This will help the dentist find the perfect fit and ensure the most comfort and best results in avoiding the obstructive sleep apnea and breathing issues.

Tongue retaining mouthpiece

Overall, this device is similar to a MAD. However, this device is outfitted with a small compartment that is used to fit around the tongue. By doing this, the tongue is held forward to help avoid the collapse and airway blockage.

Which is best?

Both of these devices are great solutions for people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Each person is different in their needs. Thus, having a sleep study then working with a dentist will help determine the better option. Both have undergone rigorous studies and are great solutions for obstructive sleep apnea. The best thing a person can do is work closely with their sleep study team and dentist to find the best solution.

Have more questions about the use of an oral appliance for treating obstructive sleep apnea? Give our office a call. We will gladly answer additional questions you may have!

Request an appointment here: or call Feist Siegert Dental at (608) 466-4227 for an appointment in our Onalaska office.

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