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Oral Appliances Are a Non-Invasive and Comfortable Treatment Option
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) is a well documented alternative treatment for snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Although Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP therapy is the most common treatment for OSA, Oral Appliances are a non-invasive, comfortable and effective therapeutic option. Additionally, Oral Appliances are very convenient for travel. Similar in feel to retainers or sports mouth guards, Oral Appliances prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues into the throat during sleep, eliminating OSA.
Patients With Mild to Moderately Severe Sleep Apnea Will Benefit
Oral Appliance Therapy is applicable for individuals with primary snoring and non-severe OSA, who do not respond to other treatments such as weight loss and position change, or who do not tolerate CPAP.
This treatment option should also be considered for those who have not achieved the relief expected following a surgical intervention.
Oral Appliances Reposition the Lower Jaw to Prevent Snoring and Apnea
The key function of the Oral Appliance is to comfortably reposition the mandibular (lower jaw) to a minimally protruded or forward position during sleep. This opens up the airway by indirectly pulling the tongue and airway muscles forward, stimulating activity of these muscles, resulting in a stronger and more stable airway.
Oral Appliances are effective in reducing snoring as well as sleep apnea because the most common sites of obstruction in the upper airway are just below the base of the tongue and soft palate (termed the oro- and hypopharynx). By positioning and stabilizing the lower jaw, the oro- and hypopharynx increase in size and allow for improved breathing during sleep.
Oral Appliances Are Customized by Sleep Medicine Dentists
Dentists with training in Oral Appliance Therapy are familiar with the various designs and applications of different appliances. Board certification by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine insures the highest qualification in this field. Many dentists work with board certified sleep specialists as part of a complete medical team in the diagnosis, treatment and management of the sleep-disordered breathing. Determination of the effectiveness of the treatment is best made through the close collaboration of a dentist with their sleep medicine colleagues.
The process for receiving an Oral Appliance begins with proper diagnosis (usually requiring laboratory testing to demonstrate the presence of sleep-disordered breathing). Evaluation by a sleep medicine specialist and qualified dentist to determine the most appropriate device is the next step. Soon after this, the patient is fitted with a device, customized to the bite and structure of the teeth and jaw. Fine tuning therapy with subsequent home-based testing and occasional clinical evaluations insures continued success over time.
Insurance Covers Oral Appliances
Oral Appliance Therapy is covered by most insurance carriers and necessitates diagnosis of OSA by overnight testing. An attempt, or failure, to treat OSA with CPAP therapy is sometimes necessary prior to insurance coverage.