Sleep Apnea Mouthpiece
What is a Sleep Apnea Mouthpiece? Not many people are familiar with sleep apnea mouthpieces. Primarily, they look like sports mouth guards. They are small plastic implements that are commonly used to keep your airway open while you sleep. Generally, these mouthpieces are specially constructed in order to mold to the mouth of the patient perfectly.
Generally, the sleep apnea mouthpiece is molded and overseen by a dentist who specializes in sleep-related dentistry. This is referred to as dental sleep medicine, and it encompasses things like CPAP machines and sleep apnea mouthpieces. At the time of writing, roughly 3,000 dentists are qualified to fit patients for sleep apnea mouthpieces.
It is worth noting that sleep apnea mouthpieces are only effective for patients with obstructive sleep apnea, not central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is caused by issues in the nervous system that cause irregular breathing. By contrast, obstructive sleep apnea is caused by physical obstructions to your breathing path while sleeping.
Getting Your Own If your doctor thinks a sleep apnea mouthpiece is right for you then you’ll undergo the fitting process to get a specially-fitted mouthpiece. It’s important that your sleep doctor, together with your sleep medicine dentist, work in concert to get you the solution you need. There are many different types of mouthpieces that you could use, so getting the right one is important!
Once your dentist starts fitting you, it will take a few visits to get all the measurements and molds ready. The fit is molded exactly to the shape and contours of your mouth and teeth. This makes for a comfortable fit that also helps keep your airways from becoming blocked while you’re sleeping.
The mouthpiece works by keeping your lower jaw slightly pushed out so that it makes a little bit of space at the back of your throat. Your airway will be opened just enough to allow a proper amount of breath through. Snoring and sleep apnea can both be addressed rather definitively with these simple devices!
Why Sleep Apnea Mouthpieces over CPAP? CPAP machines are great for some patients. However, there are a number of ways that mouthpieces can be a better fit for others. For one thing, mouthpieces are incredibly simple, easy and portable. You need only pop it in before you sleep to get the benefits of the device. CPAP machines, in contrast, involve a large facemask and a loud machine that has to be plugged into the wall.
A number of snorers who haven’t been diagnosed with OSA aren’t even able to apply for CPAP therapy. This is because CPAP machines require diagnosis of sleep apnea before they can be recommended by a doctor. Mouthpieces, however, require no such diagnosis. They can often help in much the same way as a CPAP machine for those with minor obstruction causing loud snoring.
Other Pros Even among people who have been diagnosed with OSA, if it’s mild enough, they may want to have a mouthpiece. A lot of people who start CPAP therapy stop it themselves after a few weeks, even though they’re not supposed to. The mask is just so unwieldy! It’s much easier to stick with the program when you’re just using the simple mouthpiece.
It’s also a lot easier to simply pop in a mouthpiece and sleep normally than it is to fuss with the CPAP’s mask and machine. The CPAP machine blows air all night, making it a bit noisy. Many people and their sleep partners prefer the silence of the mouthpiece!
It’s much easier to travel with a mouthpiece as well. When you’ve got a lot of machinery to cart about, it can be difficult to want to travel. When all you need is a mouthpiece, though, you’ve only got to pop it in your bag and you’re good to go! Finally, many patients prefer mouthpieces to CPAP machines because they’re just so much more affordable.