Oral Appliance Therapy Treatment Options

Sleep apnea is caused by loose tissue that obstructs your airways as you sleep and prevents you from breathing. Your tongue may fall back and block your airway, or throat tissue may become overly relaxed and fall out of place. There are several possible treatment options available for sleep apnea, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), surgery, and oral mouthpieces. Oral mouthpieces and CPAP are among the most common treatments prescribed for sleep apnea, while surgery is usually only resorted to when all other treatment options have failed.

Two Types of Dental Mouthpiece for Sleep Apnea

A sleep apnea mouthpiece may go by different names. They may be referred to as oral appliances, night guards, or mouthguards. Indeed, they are similar-looking to the mouthguards used by athletes to protect their teeth while competing.

While there are many different types of oral mouthpieces used to treat sleep apnea, they can be grouped into two basic categories: tongue retaining devices and mandibular advancement devices.

Tongue retaining devices work by holding your tongue in a specific position so that it does not fall back into your throat and block your airway.
Mandibular advancement devices open up your airway by positioning your jaw down and slightly forward.

Why Choose Oral Appliance Therapy?

We often get this question: “Why should I get oral appliance therapy over a CPAP machine?”

Oral appliance therapy won’t work in every case. If you have central or complex sleep apnea, you’ll need to use a CPAP machine. Likewise, if your sleep apnea is severe, your best treatment option is a CPAP machine, but oral appliance therapy can be a breath of fresh air for those with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

Comfortable: Your oral appliance doesn’t require a mask, tubes, or air blowing into your airway all night long. You can sleep in any position, and shortly, you’ll even forget you’re wearing it. It’s not uncommon for CPAP wearers to wake up with a dry mouth, have eye irritation, skin irritation, and feel bloated from the constant airflow throughout the night. You won’t have any of those side effects with an oral appliance.

Simple: Does a CPAP seem complicated to you? After a bit of learning, you’ll have it down, but if you don’t have to, why do it? Your oral appliance is simple. It’s a sleek orthotic that sits in your mouth while you sleep. It doesn’t require intricate cleaning either; just soak it in the morning as you brush your teeth and pop it back into it’s case. When you go to bed at night, you’ll have a simple to use and clean sleep apnea treatment.

Easy for Travel: Your CPAP can travel with you, and it doesn’t count toward your baggage, but let’s face it, an oral appliance is easier. It’s the size of a typical mouthguard and fits right in your carry-on, purse, or pocket. Do you have a long flight and might sleep on the plane? Go ahead and use your oral appliance without feeling self-conscious.

Effective: Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for those with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. In many cases, its more effective than CPAP because people find it easier to wear and use their sleep apnea treatment every night.

Quiet: Your oral appliance doesn’t make any noise. There is no machine attached to it, and better yet, it prevents your noise—snoring! You and your partner can sleep soundly without any extra noise in the room.

No Electricity Needed: Do you frequently travel to places without electricity, like camping, backpacking, or even somewhere overseas? With oral appliance therapy, you can. You don’t need to sleep next to an outlet like you would with a CPAP. Feel free to sleep under the stars and still get your sleep apnea treatment.

woman peacefully asleep

Find the Best Treatment Option for You

The treatment for sleep apnea depends on what is causing it. At Michigan Head & Neck, we can help to determine which treatment option will be most effective for you. Once you’ve been fitted with the best mouthpiece for sleep apnea, you will receive follow-up sleep studies to ensure the appliance’s effectiveness.