Think about how many times per day you rely on your teeth. You use them to chew breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You press your tongue against them to make certain sounds when you speak. There's really no doubt about it — your teeth are important, and they deserve your respect. You can pay them that respect by visiting your dentist for regular cleaning and checkup appointments. You should also call at the first sign of dental pain, tooth discoloration, or other oral health changes. Read more about dentists and dentistry here on this blog, where we dive deep into related topics.
While your doctor can help manage some sleep apnea problems, there are times when they call in other professionals. For example, your physician might recommend that you see a dentist to get an oral sleep apnea disorder device. What are your options here?
Mandibular Advancement Devices
If your doctor thinks that your sleep apnea is related to the position of your jaw and tongue when you sleep, then they, and your dentist, might assess you to see if a mandibular advancement device (MAD) can help. These devices move your jaw and tongue forward to create more of the physical space you need to breathe as you sleep.
MAD devices work in a similar way to mouthguards. They snap over your teeth and gums. However, they are designed slightly differently. For example, they make your jaw sit in a slightly forward position. This relieves constriction on your throat and creates more space for air. They also move your tongue forward. When you do this, you also free up more space behind the tongue in your airways.
Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea, its causes, and the structure of your jaws and teeth, you might have to wear a custom-made or over-the-counter device. Your dentist can help you choose the right option here.
Custom MADs usually have metal hinges between their top and bottom halves. These hinges automatically position the device in the right place so that it can move the jaw and tongue. In some cases, custom MADs are adjustable. You and your dentist will work together to find the best hinge position until you find the right fit.
If you only have minor problems and don't need to move your jaw or tongue too much, then your dentist might recommend a boil-and-bite MAD product. These work like over-the-counter sports mouth guards. You heat the device in hot water, put it in your mouth, and then bite down on it to create your own fit.
If your tongue is the main cause of your sleep apnea problems, then your dentist might recommend that you try using a tongue retainer. These devices work like a splint. You put your splint in your mouth at night and put your tongue in it.
The retainer holds your tongue in place at the front of your mouth while you sleep. This can be enough to create unrestricted breathing space in some cases.
Keep in mind that you should see a dentist with experience in managing your condition. To find out more, contact dental clinics that offer a specialist sleep apnea disorder treatment such as TMJ & Sleep Center.Share