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Oral Appliance Therapy Works Wonders For Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The Mayo Clinic warns of the seriousness of obstructive sleep apnea, which causes breathing difficulties while sleeping. They report that the condition occurs when the muscles in your throat periodically relax and then obstruct the airway. This lack of oxygen can be dangerous. It is important to make an appointment with your family dentist for oral appliance therapy if you spot such signs as snoring, nighttime sweats, fatigue during the daytime hours, or suddenly waking and gasping for a breath of air.

What is Oral Appliance Therapy?

Oral appliance therapy is when a dentist creates a custom mouthpiece that is designed to be worn anytime you go to sleep. The device works by keeping airways open while you rest. Patients will love that the oral appliances are small and easily portable. It is important to note that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine does not recommend over-the-counter mouth guards, as these are not personalized to the user. 

What Types of Oral Appliances are Available?

Your dentist will help you decide which of the two oral appliances are best for your situation. The mandibular repositioning devices work to draw your lower jaw forward while also keeping the jaw down far enough that your airway stays open. This way you can continue to breath freely and experience a peaceful night's rest. This is the most common type of appliance used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Another option is to go with the tongue retaining device. This is a good choice if it is your tongue that often blocks the airway. The appliance functions by pressing the tongue down so that it doesn't slip up and obstruct your breathing.

Why are Follow-Up Visits Necessary?

After the family dentist has provided you with the oral appliance, you'll need to keep up with a few follow-up appointments. The initial appointments are used to adjust the device as needed, while yearly visits confirm that you are still benefiting from the therapy. Over time, the appliance will wear and your dentist will have you fitted for a new one.

What Health Benefits Can I Expect from Oral Appliance Therapy?

In addition to keeping airways free and clear, the devices will allow you to experience unobstructed sleep. You'll feel more rested with extra energy to tackle the day. Your mind will also be clearer and you won't wake up with a sore throat, dry mouth, or headache like you used to. Perhaps the best benefit is the lack of snoring, which your spouse is sure to appreciate!