We have learnt so much in the last few blogs, but there are still some important facts about Sleep Dentistry left to discuss.
– Oral appliances don’t cure mild sleep apnea or snoring. The appliance must be worn or else it will not be effective, i.e. the symptoms return.
– These appliances are not effective for everyone. The degree of O.S.A (obstructive sleep apnea), weight and other factors come into play.
– They can be used alone or in combination with other ways to treat sleep apnea I.e. C.P.A.P machine and health and weight management and changing position of sleep (a combination of these).
The Effectiveness of Oral appliances
1. 85-90% effective in reducing and eliminating snoring.
2. 60-70% effective in reducing mild to moderate sleep apnea to normal.
Why the Snoring Sound?
If the airways are crowded (tongue, soft palate, soft tissue blocking them while lying horizontal), then as we breathe one can hear vibrations occurring in the tissues of the throat…this produces the snoring sound.
Often it starts with a spouse saying “do something about your snoring…I can’t take it anymore.”
Many times the patient ends up in my dental chair asking me to solve their snoring issue. This is the time to take a step back; in other words, we do not want to rush into making a snoring appliance. We want to figure out what the actual problem is I.e. is it just snoring or is it sleep apnea too? And if it is sleep apnea, then what degree is it – mild, moderate or severe?
Remember, an oral appliance is most effective for mild sleep apnea, not moderate to severe.
We do not want to rush into making an oral appliance. If we go ahead and fabricate the appliance without knowing what the problem is and it turns out the individuals issue is severe sleep apnea, then the appliance will not really be effective.
It is best to seek the advice of a sleep medicine doctor. They conduct sleep study tests which diagnose the disorder and then recommend the treatment.
Then the dentist can continue with the diagnosis by fabricating the appliance and following the patient through a successful transition with it.
I hope you have enjoyed the series of blogs discussing the issues relating to Sleep Dentistry…until the next time.
Yours in health and a fitful sleep,
Dr. Robert Axelrad, Brampton’s Gentle Dentist.