Oral appliances are used to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. These custom-fitted devices are worn in the mouth to reposition the jaw, which can help prevent snoring. The oral appliance is like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer. It helps keep the jaw in a forward position, which in turn helps to maintain an open airway during sleep. These devices are usually fitted by a dentist and can be custom-made or adapted for the individual patient. The appliance is removable and worn only during sleep.
Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are the primary reasons to use an oral appliance. Snoring often occurs when the muscles of the jaw relax during sleep, allowing the tongue to fall back and block the airways. Snoring is also a symptom of OSA, a condition in which the patient repeatedly stops breathing while asleep. Snoring and OSA can occur at any age but are most likely in older men who are overweight. There is also a form of sleep apnea that originates in the brain (central sleep apnea), in which the brain does not send messages to the breathing muscles. This condition cannot be treated with oral appliance therapy.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved over 100 oral appliances to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Unlike other treatments for snoring and OSA, oral appliances are quiet, portable, easy to wear and convenient for travel, and Dr. Macdonald’s office carries the myTAP Oral Appliance in the office for your convenience. Otolaryngologists (ENT specialists) usually either refer the patient to a dentist and/or work closely with the dentist during the process of fitting an oral appliance. The dentist will review any records, conduct a complete clinical examination and may also take X-rays of the mouth. Oral appliances are made from digital or physical impressions of the teeth and must be fitted to the individual patient. Once the appliance has been fitted, a sleep study (polysomnogram) is usually necessary to confirm that the appliance is working properly.
To learn more about the myTAP Oral Appliance that Dr. Macdonald uses to treat snoring, click here.
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