Sleep apnea is a potentially deadly condition whose frequency has become epidemic, contributing to the overall poor health of middle-age America. In the past, the primary obstacle to overcoming this problem has been spreading awareness about the condition. Perhaps 90% of people with the condition didn’t know they had it.
As awareness has spread, we are facing a new problem: people need to find an effective sleep apnea treatment. CPAP can work, but with low compliance rates, it can be difficult to achieve success. An alternative that is growing in popularity is oral appliance therapy, which has great potential if properly implemented.
A new published review of the treatment highlights some of the keys to getting great results with oral appliance therapy.
The Right Therapy for the Right Candidate
Although oral appliance therapy can be a great sleep apnea treatment, it’s not the right treatment choice for everyone. People with central sleep apnea–where breathing stops because the brain stops sending signals to the body–are not good candidates for oral appliance therapy.
It’s also important to make sure that if the airway is collapsing the collapse occurs in a place where the airway can be kept open with an oral appliance, typically the upper portion of the throat. This is the most common site of airway narrowing and collapse, however, so it is likely that most people are good candidates for oral appliance therapy.
There are many oral appliances available that come as stock or with only a small amount of adjustability–such as using boil-and-bite methods to fit to teeth. These oral appliances have by and large been proven to be ineffective.
The only oral appliances that can really help a person reduce their sleep apnea and experience an improvement in symptoms is a custom-made oral appliance from a dentist. People considering oral appliance therapy need to make sure to get a custom-crafted appliance.
One of the big advantages that oral appliances have over CPAP is that people are more likely to use them. Studies show compliance rates to be 95% or more when measured at the same level as CPAP.
However, to get that high rate of compliance, it’s important that the oral appliance be comfortable. An uncomfortable appliance is less likely to be worn by a sleep apnea sufferer, reducing the effectiveness of the treatment.
One essential aspect of getting the most comfortable fit for your oral appliance is neuromuscular dentistry. It’s important to make sure that your oral appliance is fitted so that it promotes jaw health and doesn’t contribute to your risk of developing TMJ or the worsening of TMJ symptoms.
Sleep apnea is a complex disorder, one that can impact virtually every system in your body. To ensure proper management of the condition and its symptoms, people often benefit from a multidisciplinary team of doctors working together.
By helping people get more effective results from their treatment early on, this will increase adherence and therefore the effectiveness of the treatment.
Are You Looking for Effective Sleep Apnea Treatment?
If you’re in the Detroit area and looking for effective sleep apnea treatment, the Michigan Center for TMJ and Sleep Wellness should be your choice. We implement modern best practices to ensure the most effective treatment for all our patients. Sleep dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad has extensive training in neuromuscular dentistry so he can make sure your appliance is comfortable and promotes jaw health. In addition, we work with a wide range of health professionals to create an effective sleep apnea treatment team.
Please call (248) 825-8277 today for an appointment at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.