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The Road to a Better Sleep: Addressing Sleep Apnea With Oral Appliance Therapy

Grabbing a peaceful night’s sleep can be a real struggle for many individuals across the globe. Tossing and turning at night, snoring like a freight train, and waking up with morning headaches and day-long fatigue might be signs of a common but serious sleep disorder: sleep apnea. If left untreated, this sleep condition can adversely affect your health and lifestyle.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder whose common symptom is repetitive pauses in breathing. This occurs when your throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airway during sleep.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

Symptoms can vary from person to person, and some might be more subtle than others. If you suspect that you or a loved one has sleep apnea, it’s important to seek medical attention as untreated sleep apnea can lead to more serious health problems.

Two Types of Sleep Apnea

  • 1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

    This occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax during sleep, causing the airway to narrow or close off. This makes you unable to get enough air, which may lower the oxygen level in your blood, causing you to wake up frequently throughout the night. As a result, you may feel exhausted during the day, even if you spent a full night in bed.

  • 2. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

    This is a less common form of sleep apnea, where the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing while you sleep. This means you may stop breathing for short periods. It might be hard to diagnose as the traditional symptom of snoring may not be present. It often results in disrupted sleep, leaving individuals feeling unrested the following day, and can potentially result in serious health issues if left untreated.

What Is Oral Appliance Therapy?

Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) is a treatment for sleep-related breathing disorders such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It involves the use of a custom-fitted device, similar to an orthodontic retainer or sports mouthguard, which is worn in the mouth during sleep.

The oral appliance works by gently repositioning the lower jaw or tongue forward, which can help keep the airway open and allow for easier breathing while sleeping. This can reduce the occurrence of apneas (pauses in breathing) and hypopneas (shallow breaths), leading to improved sleep quality and reduced daytime sleepiness.

OAT is often used as an alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy, especially for patients who find CPAP uncomfortable or difficult to use consistently. However, the appropriateness of OAT can depend on the severity of your sleep apnea and other personal health factors, so it’s important to discuss this with a healthcare provider.

Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea

  • Improved Sleep Quality

    OAT can significantly improve the quality of your sleep by reducing sleep disruptions caused by apnea events.

  • Increased Energy and Alertness

    By improving sleep quality, OAT can lead to increased energy levels and alertness during the day.

  • Reduced Health Risks

    Effective treatment of sleep apnea with OAT can lower the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

  • Effectiveness in Reducing Apnea Severity

    Many patients, including those with severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), have seen a reduction in the severity of their condition with OAT.

  • Comfort and Convenience

    Oral appliances are custom-fitted, making them comfortable to wear. They are also portable and easy to take care of, which makes them convenient for travel.

  • Non-Invasive Treatment

    Unlike other treatments like CPAP or surgery, OAT is non-invasive, which makes it a good option for those who are intolerant or resistant to other forms of treatment.

What Can You Expect During Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy is a common treatment for sleep-related disorders like snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Here’s what you can generally expect during this process:

The process typically begins with a consultation with a sleep dentist or sleep physician who specializes in sleep disorders. They’ll discuss your symptoms, go over your medical history, and perform an oral examination to determine if you’re a good candidate for oral appliance therapy.

If you’re deemed a suitable candidate, the specialist will take digital impressions of your teeth. These molds are used to create a custom-made oral appliance that fits perfectly in your mouth.

Once the oral appliance is ready, you’ll have another appointment where the specialist will adjust the device to maximize its effectiveness and comfort.
After you start using the appliance, you’ll have follow-up appointments to check the fit, monitor your progress, and make any necessary adjustments. It’s important to maintain these appointments to ensure the device continues to work effectively.

Just like any dental appliance, your oral device will need regular cleaning and care. Your specialist will provide instructions on how to maintain and clean your appliance.

Remember, every patient is unique and the exact process may vary based on individual needs and the specific type of oral appliance being used. Always consult with a healthcare professional for advice tailored to your situation.

How Much Does an Oral Appliance Cost?

This comprehensive therapy can cost between $1500 and $4500, depending on your specific needs and device type. It’s crucial to remember that the cost of untreated sleep apnea is much higher in terms of impact on health and lifestyle. Working with our team, we can discuss affordable payment options and see if your health insurance can offset some expenses.

How to Maintain Your Oral Appliance

Brush Your Teeth Before Wearing the Appliance

It's essential to maintain good oral hygiene before wearing your sleep apnea oral appliance. Brush and floss your teeth to remove any food particles and bacteria.

Clean the Appliance Regularly

Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to clean your appliance. Avoid using abrasive toothpaste as it can damage the appliance. You can also use the brush provided in your retainer case.

Rinse Before Use

Rinse your oral appliance before putting it inside your mouth to wash away any leftover cleaning agent or debris.

Daily and Weekly Cleaning

Establish a routine of daily and weekly cleaning for your sleep apnea device. This may involve more thorough cleaning or soaking in a special solution depending on the manufacturer's instructions.

Regular Checkups

Regular visits to your dental professional can help ensure your oral appliance is still in good condition and fitting properly. They can provide further advice on care and maintenance.

No More Counting Sheep

Get A Restful Night’s Sleep With Oral Appliance Therapy!

No more grappling with disrupted sleep—let our professionals at Sleep Better Philly help you navigate your way to a more peaceful night’s sleep. Treating sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy can dramatically improve your quality of life, health, and overall well-being.

Find the comfort you deserve and breathe easy, knowing you are making a wise choice for your sleep and health. Contact us today for a comprehensive assessment and begin your journey towards better sleep. After all, isn’t it about time you stopped counting sheep?