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How Do Oral Appliances Work? Florence AL


dentist holidng an oral appliance made for sleep apnea at Singing River DentistryOral appliances are also known as dental appliances or mandibular advancement devices (MADs). They are designed to treat various medical conditions, usually sleep-related breathing disorders such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). They are used as an alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.

However, oral appliances are not suitable for everyone. A consultation and careful evaluation with us here at Singing River Dentistry is necessary to determine if an oral appliance may improve your sleep.

What Oral Appliances Do


Oral appliances reposition the lower jaw and tongue to keep the airway open during sleep. By placing the jaw forward, soft tissues are prevented from obstructing the airway.

Oral appliances are custom fitted to a patient's individual mouth. The upper and lower dental trays gradually move the jaw into a forward position, and prevent it from slipping during sleep. The airway is widened, airflow improves, which may reduce or eliminate snoring, or mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea and its Risks


Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, where the upper airway becomes blocked and creates pauses in breathing. This condition disrupts the normal sleep cycle and poses significant health risks.

Untreated sleep apnea can contribute to daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and increases the risk of accidents. In addition, the repeated drops in blood oxygen levels during pauses in breathing strains the cardiovascular system.

Sleep apnea may lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Untreated sleep apnea has been shown to lead to a higher risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Chronic sleep disruption has been linked to mood disorders as well.

Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea


Oral appliances are a popular therapeutic option for managing sleep apnea, particularly in cases of mild to moderate OSA. When individuals find CPAP therapy challenging, the next step is an oral appliance.

These custom-fitted devices work by repositioning the lower jaw and tongue to prevent the collapse of the upper airway. Through mandibular advancement, they maintain an open airway, reduce snoring, and alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea.

The devices are tailored to fit the individual, and some have adjustable features to optimize comfort and efficacy. Regular follow-ups with healthcare providers ensure proper fit and adjustment. Oral appliances are not suitable for all cases, but they do offer a more comfortable alternative for some patients grappling with sleep apnea.

Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)


A mandibular advancement device (MAD) is an oral appliance designed to address sleep-related breathing disorders such as sleep apnea and snoring. This custom-fitted device is a popular alternative to CPAP therapy.

The MAD works by repositioning the lower jaw (mandible) slightly forward, which may prevent the collapse of the upper airway during sleep. It promotes increased airflow and reduces the likelihood of snoring and pauses in breathing. MADs are adjustable to accommodate individual jaw sizes and are personalized for optimal comfort.

Regular consultations with us ensure the effectiveness of the device and allow for modifications. The MAD has proven to be an effective and more comfortable solution for many patients dealing with mild to moderate sleep apnea. It offers a more user-friendly approach to managing these sleep-related disorders.

Tongue-Stabilizing Device (TSD)


A tongue-stabilizing device (TSD) is an oral appliance designed to address sleep-related breathing problems. Unlike MADs, TSDs focus on stabilizing the tongue to prevent its backward collapse during sleep, which keeps the airway clear.

This device consists of a suction cup that attaches to the tip of the tongue, holding it in a forward position to maintain the open airway.

TSDs are an alternative for mandibular advancement, or for patients who prefer a simpler design. TSDs are also custom-fitted for individual comfort and effectiveness. Regular follow-ups ensure proper use and adjustments.

TSDs are not as versatile as MADs, but they are a viable solution to address tongue-related issues that contribute to snoring and sleep apnea.

Rapid Maxillary Expansion (RME)


Rapid maxillary expansion (RME) is an orthodontic treatment aimed at addressing certain dental and breathing issues that stem from a narrow upper jaw. This procedure is often used in children while their bones are still malleable.

RME involves the use of a device placed in the upper palate called an expander. It is widened gradually over a period of several weeks. This gentle pressure to the upper jaw expands the lateral bones. This slow, controlled therapy creates additional space for crowded teeth and also improves breathing by expanding airways.

RME is only one part of a comprehensive orthodontic treatment plan. It may be recommended for individuals with crossbites, crowding, or breathing difficulties from a narrow upper jaw.

How Oral Appliance Therapy Works


Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a non-invasive treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. This therapy uses custom-fitted oral appliances, such as MADs or TSDs, worn during sleep. The mechanism of action varies depending on the appliance, but usually moves the lower jaw or stabilizes the tongue to prevent airway collapse.

MADs advance the lower jaw forward. This creates space at the back of the throat and opens the airway. However, TSDs hold the tongue in a forward position to prevent its collapse on the airway. The customization of these devices ensures the best fit possible for each individual patient.

This custom fitting optimizes comfort and efficacy. Regular follow-ups are crucial to monitor progress, make any necessary adjustments, and ensure the continued effectiveness of appliance therapy.

Comparison with Other Treatments


When considering treatments for sleep-related breathing disorders, oral appliance therapy stands out as a viable alternative to CPAP therapy or surgical interventions. CPAP requires wearing a mask that delivers pressurized air to keep the airway open, but some patients find it uncomfortable. It is difficult to adapt to.

In contrast, oral appliances offer a less intrusive and more user-friendly option. CPAP is highly effective, but the choice between the two comes down to individual preferences and tolerances.

Surgical interventions like uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) or genioglossus advancement (GA) are an option for severe cases, but come with risks and long recovery times.

Oral appliance therapy is personalized to maximize comfort and ease of use. This personalization makes it a choice worth careful consideration for those looking to treat sleep-related breathing disorders. We work to communicate the pros and cons of all possible options with our patients.

Who Are Oral Appliances Best For?


Oral appliances are best suited for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea or snoring, especially those who find CPAP to be uncomfortable. Oral appliances are a non-invasive, user-friendly approach to manage sleep-related breathing disorders.

They are particularly beneficial for those who prefer a more comfortable treatment option. In addition, individuals with anatomical features that contribute to airway collapse such as a narrow upper jaw may find relief through custom-fitted oral appliances. Oral appliance application depends on several factors such as the severity of the sleep disorder and individual preferences.

Schedule With Your Dentist in Florence, AL Today!


If you are considering treatment for obstructive sleep apnea or snoring, please call us at 256-712-3549 to schedule a consultation. Our team here at Singing River Dentistry is happy to help you determine if oral appliance therapy is the best solution for your specific needs.


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How Do Oral Appliances Work? Florence AL
Learn more about oral appliances and how they work to prevent the damage caused by sleep apnea. Call us in Florence, AL today to schedule!
Singing River Dentistry, 2604 Hough Rd, Florence, AL 35630 ^ 256-712-3549 ^ florence.singingriverdentistry.com ^ 4/20/2024 ^ Page Terms:dentist Florence AL ^