What is a Sleep Apnea Mouth Guard?

Those who suffer from sleep apnea may feel that a good night’s sleep is hopeless. Beyond their own lack of rest, the sleep of their spouse or significant other may also be impaired. In fact, most spouses are the first to discover their partner’s obstructive sleep apnea due to the loud snoring and gasping pattern observed. A sleep apnea mouth guard may be the solution for this situation. Read on to learn more and see if one is right for you.

Sleep Apnea Causes

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder which is often diagnosed when a patient’s struggle with daytime sleepiness leads them to pursue medical treatment. The quality of sleep is affected when the soft tissue in the back of the throat either partially or completely obstructs the breathing passage causing snoring and, in the case of complete blockage, pauses in breathing. Sleep apnea is more common if a patient is overweight, their tongue or tonsil tissue relaxes more frequently, or if their bone structure causes the size of the airway passage to be decreased.

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea at an early stage can lead to serious health complications such as heart attack, stroke and even death. It is therefore important to be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of this sleeping disorder and seek a physician’s advice for proper treatment. For those suffering from mild to moderate OSA they can use the mouth guard. Those suffering from sleep apnea and who may want to try the mouthpiece should always seek advice from their primary care specialist.

Sleep Apnea Devices

  1. CPAP machine
  2. dental mouthpieces
  3. lifestyle changes
  4. surgery

sleepapneacpapmachineTreatment options for sleep apnea typically involve breathing devices such as the CPAP machine, dental mouthpieces, lifestyle changes, and in certain situations- surgery. When evaluating treatments, it is important to keep in mind budget restraints, long term success and ease of use.

Sleep apnea patients are traditionally treated with the use of CPAP machines during sleeping periods; however, these machines are expensive and often difficult to sleep with. The loud noise and confining mask of CPAP machines cause many sleep apnea sufferers to cease treatment altogether or to lack consistency.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Mouth Guard

For those who do not find relief of symptoms with the CPAP machine, a sleep apnea mouthpiece is a wonderful option. There are three different types of oral appliance therapies used to treat sleep apnea. The patient should talk with their dentist or orthodontist to decide which mouthpiece would be most beneficial for them.

  1. fixed jaw snore guard
  2. adjustable jaw guard
  3. tongue retainer

apneaguardThe first type of mouthpiece is called a fixed jaw snore guard. The fixed jaw model works by positioning the lower jaw forward to allow for a more open airway. Sometimes called a mandibular repositioning appliance, these mouth guards are mostly used to treat snoring.

The second type of mouthpiece is similar to the fixed jaw guard in that it also positions the lower jaw forward. The difference is found in this mouthpiece’s ability to be adjusted over time and has thereby been referred to as an adjustable jaw guard. This type of mouthpiece is best for long term use as it allows for alteration by your dentist as needed.

The third type of mouthpiece is the tongue retainer which, as its name suggests, holds the tongue forward to prevent it from blocking the airway. It is important to note that an obstructive sleep apnea mouthpiece is intended for treatment only of obstructive sleep apnea. It will not be effective treatment for central sleep apnea, so please discuss all plans of treatment with your doctor. While many patients complain that this mouthpiece may take the longest to get used to, it seems to be one of the more effective options.

Where to Purchase the Sleep Apnea Mouth Guard

It is important to have the right fit when selecting a mouthpiece and for this reason, it is best to collaborate with both a doctor and dentist or orthodontist before purchasing a mouthpiece.

Conclusion

It should be mentioned that while there are a wide variety of over the counter mouth guard options available to treat snoring, a custom fit piece is crucial when treating sleep apnea. A dentist will take a cast or mold of a patient’s mouth and custom build a mouthpiece to fit them. Follow up appointments may be necessary every six months to a year for adjustment.