Sleep apnea is a serious, sometimes fatal medical disorder that affects around 10% of American men over the age of 40, and 6% of American women of the same age. Sleep apnea sufferers completely stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night. Normal breathing ceases because the airway becomes obstructed, causing a serious reduction of airflow to the lungs.
There are a number of dental devices that can be used to alleviate this condition. The goal of most of these devices is to separate the jaws and push them forward slightly. This slight repositioning opens up the airway, and allows oxygen to flow freely again. Wearers of sleep apnea dental devices report that they stop loud snoring, feel more rested in the daytime, and are much more comfortable going to sleep. Sleep apnea appliances work best on patients who are not significantly overweight. They offer a viable alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
Sleep apnea appliances fall into two categories: fixed and adjustable. Here are brief descriptions of some commonly used sleep apnea dental appliances:
This new, innovative device adds another dimension to oral-appliance
therapy. Stimulating protrusive tongue reflexes and an open anterior
design advances the tongue and enlarges the cross-sectional area of the
airway. Combined with mandibular advancement, it becomes the most
effective appliance available. Two-part construction allows patients to
talk, drink, open wide and close their lips, making this the most
comfortable appliance available.
The EMA® (Elastic Mandibular
Advancement) oral appliance is a customized removable appliance created
for the noninvasive treatment of snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
(OSA). The appliance is designed to both advance the mandible and open
the bite to allow for less restricted airflow during sleep.
EMA devices help promote a deeper, more restful sleep by preventing
snoring and relieving the symptoms of OSA. The EMA does not interfere
with breathing through the mouth, even in cases of congested nasal
passages. It has many options for advancement with nine strap lengths
and four different elastic tension options. Non-restricted
lateral/protrusive movement and improved movements of the jaw are
possible while wearing the device due to varying elastic bands.
If you have questions or concerns about sleep apnea appliances, please ask your dentist.