Sleep apnea is a serious, sometimes fatal medical disorder that affects around 10% of American men over the age of 40, and 6% of American women of the same age. Sleep apnea sufferers completely stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night. Normal breathing ceases because the airway becomes obstructed, causing a serious reduction of airflow to the lungs.
There are a number of dental devices that can be used to alleviate this condition. The goal of most of these devices is to separate the jaws and push them forward slightly. This slight repositioning opens up the airway, and allows oxygen to flow freely again. Wearers of sleep apnea dental devices report that they stop loud snoring, feel more rested in the daytime, and are much more comfortable going to sleep. Sleep apnea appliances work best on patients who are not significantly overweight. They offer a viable alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
Here are brief descriptions of some commonly used sleep apnea dental appliances:
Silent Night SL (Glidewell)
Silent Nite sl is a custom-fabricated dental device that moves the lower jaw into a forward position, increasing space in the airway tube and reducing air velocity and soft tissue vibration. Special connectors are attached to transparent flexible upper and lower splints. To determine the patient's starting anteriorization, a bite registration should be taken using the sl-protrusion gauge. The sl-protrusion gauge is designed to directly register the appropriate mandibular advancement (protrusion) for the patient receiving the Silent Nite sl.The splints are custom-laminated with heat and pressure to the dentist's model of the mouth. The fit is excellent and comfortable, permitting small movements of the jaw (TMJ) and allowing uninhibited oral breathing.
EMA appliances help promote a deeper, more restful sleep by preventing snoring and relieving the symptoms of OSA. The EMA does not interfere with breathing through the mouth, even in cases of congested nasal passages. The EMA has many options for patient advancement with five strap lengths and four different elastic tension options. Non-restricted side-to-side (lateral) or front-to-back (protrusive) movements of the jaw are possible while wearing the appliance due to varying elastic bands.
If you have questions or concerns about sleep apnea appliances, please ask your dentist.