Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders, affecting over 20 million people in the United States alone. Treating sleep apnea is essential in getting proper sleep and maintaining your oral and overall health. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea not only prevents you from having a restful sleep, but it can also result in several oral health problems such as teeth grinding, TMJ, and dry mouth, as well as other health problems including high blood pressure, stroke, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and heart attacks.
Some people with severe sleep apnea use a CPAP device, keeping your airways open while you sleep. If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea and can’t tolerate or haven’t been helped by CPAP therapy, an oral appliance or nightguard may be an effective treatment option. Your choices of night guards include an over-the-counter or custom night guard provided by your dentist. Which one is best?
How are Night Guards Used to Treat Sleep Apnea?
Nightguards for sleep apnea are worn while you sleep and fit like an orthodontic retainer. These devices prevent the tongue from blocking the throat and support your jaw to help prevent airway obstruction while you sleep, allowing you to breathe better throughout the night, increasing your sleep quality, and alleviating symptoms of sleep apnea.
Over-the-Counter Dental Appliances
Over-the-counter night guards are usually a boil-and-bite oral device, which you need to soften with heat and bite into to fit your teeth. Even though over-the-counter night guards are typically cheaper than custom night guards, they’re not made to fit your teeth perfectly. They also have other disadvantages, such as:
- Not used under the supervision of a doctor
- Poor fit could cause damage to your teeth
- They aren’t adjustable, so if you have the wrong position, there’s no room for improvement
- Poor fit could also cause choking
Customized Night Guard for Sleep Apnea
Custom oral appliances have been studied and tested for their comfort, fit, and effectiveness in treating sleep apnea. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends custom oral appliances provided, monitored, and evaluated only by dentists. The benefits of customized night guards for sleep apnea include:
- It fits your mouth perfectly
- Made for your specific needs
- Part of a treatment plan supervised by an orthodontist
Customized nightguards that are made for you have high success rates in treating sleep apnea. Because you are working with a professional when you get a custom night guard, you receive more than just an appliance with a great fit. We will work with you to ease you into the proper fit, making necessary adjustments to gradually work to keep your airway open. If you’ve received a diagnosis of sleep apnea or you suspect you might have it, please contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ziadeh, at Senan Orthodontic Studios .