Do you keep your partner, or even yourself, up at night due to your loud snoring? Obstructive sleep apnea is more than a nuisance. About 10 percent of women and 25 percent of men have this condition, characterized by loud snores, gasps, and grunts.
People with untreated sleep apnea tend to experience breathing pauses numerous times during sleep. This can happen hundreds of times throughout the night when the tissue at the back of the throat briefly blocks the airway.
Sleep apnea can increase the risk for various health problems, such as heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure. It can also leave you feeling groggy and tired in the morning. Fortunately, there are several treatment options you can discuss with your doctor.
There are three categories of sleep apnea, which are central, obstructive, and mixed. The more common of the three is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when there is a partial or complete blockage of the upper airway during sleep.
When this happens, pressure increases to unblock the airway, which forces the chest and diaphragm muscles to work harder. Usually, breathing resumes with a body jerk or loud gasp. Such episodes can reduce the flow of oxygen to important organs of the body and interfere with comfortable sleep. They can also cause problems with heart rhythm.
The best-researched and most effective treatment for this condition is positive airway pressure. It involves using a small machine that blows air through a mask to prevent the airway from blocking or collapsing.
However, most people with moderate or mild sleep apnea find this bedside machine quite uncomfortable and challenging to use. This is why many look for effective alternatives. If you have sleep apnea, oral devices may be a good option for you. Before you choose to use an oral device, however, you need to do your homework.
Tongue Retaining Device
This oral device is a splint designed to hold your tongue in place to prevent it from blocking your airway. If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, this device may help reduce the loudness and frequency of snoring, in addition to improving your sleep.
Mandibular Advancement Device
This is one of the most popular and effective oral devices for sleep apnea. It looks like the mouth guards used in sports and snaps over the lower and upper dental arches. Most MADs have metal hinges designed to ease forward the lower jaw.
Snoring Chin Straps
Made from neoprene-type material or a flexible fabric, this device wraps over the head and supports the chin. It helps keep your mouth closed during sleep, preventing air from flowing to and from your throat. This reduces the rapid flapping that is the main cause of loud snoring.
Oral devices for sleep apnea reposition the tongue and jaw to open the upper airway. However, it can be difficult to predict whether you can benefit from using such devices. Experts generally recommend them for people with mild to moderate sleep apnea. They are also ideal for those with severe sleep apnea but cannot tolerate positive airway pressure.
To learn more about devices for sleep apnea, visit Levenson Smile at our office in Worcester, Massachusetts. You can call 508-731-3940 today to schedule an appointment.