Pros and Cons of a Sleep Apnea Dental Appliance

Posted on: December 5, 2018

Sleep apnea is a common condition where the upper airways of the nose become blocked during sleep. This leads to reduced or complete loss of airflow. Sleep Apnea can be caused by an individual’s physical structure or a medical condition. Some of these conditions include obesity, endocrine disorders, neuromuscular disorders, heart or kidney failure and certain genetic syndromes. There are three main types of sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea syndrome.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of this condition and is when the throat muscles relax reducing airflow.
  • Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that control sleeping.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central syndrome, is a combination of the central and obstructive sleep apneas.

The purpose of Sleep Apnea Dental Appliances

Luckily, there are dental appliances (also known as oral appliance therapies) that are effectively treating obstructive sleep apnea. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can help improve sleep, restore alertness and revitalize the health of the user. This is an oral appliance that fits like a sports mouth guard over the mouth and helps support the jaw to maintain an open upper airway. By keeping the jaw in a forward position, this prevents the throat muscles and the pharynx from collapsing back into the airways.

Pros of Sleep Apnea Dental Appliances

There are many pros for these dental appliances/devices. Many patients find dental appliances much more comfortable and tolerable to wear as opposed to CPAP masks. CPAP, short for continuous positive airway pressure masks, are essentially the same as a sleep apnea dental appliance, but in the form of a mask. Dental appliances also do not have complaints of dry, itching noses that dry their sinuses like the CPAP masks do. In addition, there is little to no equipment involved, making transportation and traveling much easier when comparing the two products. As a bonus, most dental appliances are covered by medical insurance!

Cons of Sleep Apnea Dental Appliances

While there are many pros for these dental appliances/devices, there are also some minor cons involved. To ensure that they fit correctly within the patient’s mouth, all sleep apnea dental appliances must be custom made and fitted. This leads to a longer downtime and can be a hassle for those impatient or in need of instant relief. They may also be uncomfortable to wear in the beginning stages for someone who is unfamiliar to dental appliances. This may also lead, or cause problems for those with TMJ, temporomandibular joint disorder, and cause an excess of saliva. This is particular to tongue retaining devices. If the patient is already using dental restorations such as a crown or bridge, they may become loosened due to balancing both appliances in the mouth at the same time.

Despite having both advantages and weaknesses in these dental appliances, sleep apnea needs to be treated, and dental options are available. For those who are in need of a cure to sleep apnea, dental appliances may be the long-lost solution they are searching for. 

Are you considering a sleep apnea dental appliance in the Onalaska area? Get more information at

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