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Sleep Apnea: Special Mouth Guard Could Be Alternative To CPAP

by Vaishali Sharma
sleep apnea

People with sleep apnea are often prescribed a CPAP machine to help them obtain a decent night’s sleep, but there is a rising alternative to the bulky, noisy machines. Mandibular advancement devices (MADs), which are similar to mouth guards, have been demonstrated to function as well as CPAP in treating sleep apnea in many individuals, according to specialists. MADs are a kind of mental illness “become an ever-increasing component of our work. We frequently prescribe and provide the oral appliance as a therapy option for sleep apnea “Dr. Jing Wang, an assistant professor of sleep medicine at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, agreed.

“Oral appliances haven’t been around as long as CPAP, but they’ve gained a lot of traction in recent years and can be just as effective as CPAP for the proper patient,” Wang said.

When your throat muscles relax to the point of collapse and block your airway while you sleep, you have obstructive sleep apnea. When this happens, your body runs out of oxygen and you have to wake up every few minutes to gasp for breath. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people with severe sleep apnea can wake up more than 30 times each hour while trying to sleep. The most common adverse effect is daytime tiredness, but sleep apnea has also been related to major health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Patients with sleep apnea who use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine wear a mask all night to keep their airway open.

However, according to Dr. Mitchell Levine, president-elect of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, CPAP equipment can be inconvenient to operate. The masks may make individuals feel claustrophobic, the machine’s loudness can wake up bed mates, and those who use CPAP can get dry eyes, bloody noses, and facial sores, according to Levine. As a result, some individuals who suffer from sleep apnea are turning to oral devices for relief.

Mouthguards keep airways openThese devices consist of two pieces that cover your upper and lower teeth, connected by a mechanism that uses your upper jaw as leverage to push the lower jaw forward, explained Dr. Colleen Lance, a physician in the Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center.

“By bringing the lower jaw forward and by getting the tongue base out of the way of the airway, you’re manually splinting the airway open,” Lance said.MADs are similar to over-the-counter devices sold to help treat snoring, but they are custom-made by dentists working with sleep doctors, Lance and Levine said.

The upper and lower pieces are molded to your teeth, and the dentist performs a physical examination of your airway, including X-rays, to determine the exact adjustment you’ll need.

“They calculate how many millimeters forward — we’re talking about millimeters here, itty-bitty movements of the lower jaw — they would need to move the lower jaw to keep that airway open,” Lance said.

To avoid your jaw suffering or your bite shifting abruptly, these modifications are normally performed very gently over a few weeks, according to Lance.

“They gently start inching that lower jaw forward, millimetre by millimetre, after you’re acclimated to sleeping with the gadget,” Lance explained. “Your jaw despises changes, and it despises quick changes even more.”

These specialised gadgets aren’t cheap, costing between $1,500 and $2,000, but experts say Medicare and most insurance plans will pay them.

According to the American Sleep Association, off-the-shelf products cost between $75 and $150. However, “Getting the gadget to stay in the mouth is one of the more difficult tasks. It’s like putting a size 10 shoe on a size 8 foot if it’s not custom fit “According to Levine.

The gold standard for treating sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) “We’re confident that we can eliminate your apnea problem straight away. It’s a foregone conclusion. I’m confident I’ll be able to get it to you promptly. It makes no difference if you have mild, moderate, or severe apnea “Lance said.

Oral devices not for everyone

Patients are often begun on a CPAP to treat their sleep apnea, with an oral device being provided later as a possible long-term option, according to Lance. “Some individuals will be able to have both,” Lance predicted. “They’ll have a CPAP machine at home while they’re doing their typical thing, but if they travel a lot for work, they’ll travel with a dental appliance.” According to Lance and Levine, these oral devices are now recommended only for persons with mild to severe sleep apnea. Who will benefit from the gadget is also influenced by their weight. “The greater your BMI, the less probable it is that the dental device will operate,” Lance explained. “Any additional weight will further narrow that airway.”

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