Oral Appliance Therapy
Sleep apnea is something that we at Riverstone Family Dentistry have experience helping patients with. One way in which we treat this ailment is with oral appliance therapy. Often these are simply referred to as a mouthguard. Regardless of what you call them, there are some important things you should know about them.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
There are many health signs that show you have sleep apnea, one of which is bruxism (grinding your teeth). Other signs include having a red throat (because you snore a lot), scalloped edges on your tongue, and a small jaw. However, ultimately you must undergo a sleep study which will determine what type of sleep apnea you have. Once it's determined with certainty that you're suffering from sleep apnea, we may suggest trying a dental sleep solution which is oral appliance therapy - the use of a mouthguard. Sometimes you'll need more in the way of treatment, at which time you'll be given the standard treatment which is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.
How Oral Appliance Therapy Works
A mouthguard is a device that protects your teeth from bruxism (grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw) while you're asleep at night. These mouthguards are also able to help reduce your snoring, which is why they're used to relieve obstructive sleep apnea. Regardless of what your mouthguard is used to treat, it'll still work the same way - by supporting your jaw in a slightly forward and downward position that maintains the opening in your upper airway.
According to research, this is an effective way to treat the snoring that's responsible for obstructive sleep apnea. This is because it can open your airway at night in much the same way as a CPAP machine works. In addition to this, mouthguards can also stop you from clenching your teeth. What's especially nice about using a mouthguard instead of using a CPAP machine is that they're portable, easy to use, and they're quiet so they won't keep your partner or your roommate awake at night. Unfortunately, they aren't as effective if you have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.
Finding a Mouthguard That Works
It's great to know that mouthguards are an effective way of treating obstructive sleep apnea, but it's important that you have a mouthguard that fits properly. You'll know that you've found such an appliance because it'll fit snugly against your upper teeth. You won't need to bite down or clench your jaw to keep the mouthguard in place. When your mouthguard doesn't fit both securely and tightly in this way, and you find yourself needing to bite down or clench your jaw, then you'll know that there's something wrong with your mouthguard. You'll want to work with us to rectify this, so it doesn't cause any other issues.
Now that you know how oral appliance therapy can help with your sleep apnea, you should reach out to Riverstone Family Dentistry at (360) 326-1443. We'd love to set up an appointment to help you move forward with your life in a healthy way.