About 10% of American men over the age of 40, and 6% of American women of the same age suffer from sleep apnea. This condition causes the sufferer to stop breathing periodically during sleep, sometimes upwards of hundreds of times each night, either due to the brain not sending the correct signals to breathing muscles or through obstruction of the airway. The condition is potentially fatal as an overload of carbon dioxide builds up in the blood, causing the heart to have to pump too fast to sustain life. The sleep apnea type that involves obstruction can be treated by a qualified dentist in several different ways, some involving devices worn at night and some involving minor surgery.
The goal of the devices that are worn at night is to push the jawbone slightly forward as well as separating the jaws. Through this re-positioning of the jaws, the airway is opened up and oxygen is allowed to freely flow again. The general outcomes f this treatment in patients who are not significantly overweight is a stoppage of loud snoring and the general feeling of being more rested during the day. They offer a viable alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
There are two types of sleep apnea appliances, fixed and adjustable.
TAP 3 (Thornton Adjustable Positioner)
The TAP 3 is the most comfortable and smallest device in the TAP family. This device consists of two parts, both of which fit over the teeth much like a mouth guard which would be worn in sports. It separates the teeth and pulls the lower jaw slightly forward, allowing for a more open airway. It is adjustable and can be modified for optimum comfort and performance. The TAP 3 appliance can accommodate the three main types of malocclusion. This device allows the lips to close.
The OASYS appliance moves the tongue forward and slightly re positions the jawbone (mandible). This change in position opens the oropharynx and strengthens the upper airway. There is an extension attached to the upper shield which projects toward the nose. This creates a larger nasal opening and provides less resistance to airflow. This appliance is extremely comfortable to wear and is adjustable.
The KlearwayTM Appliance is generally used to eliminate snoring and provide more full and restful sleep. The dentist has the ability to adjust the device, and can project the jaw forward .25mm at a time. This ability to adjust will provide the user with greater comfort and allow for more restful sleep. The KlearwayTM appliance is made from VariflexTM heat softening acrylic, which makes it easier to insert. A further adjustment allows for the device to be run under warm water previous to insertion, which makes it pliable. After cooling , the device becomes more rigid.
Herbst Telescopic Appliance
The Herbst appliance is held in the mouth by the use of several clasps and grips that use friction to adhere. This acrylic device uses adjustable wires for maximum comfort and effectiveness. The device’s main advantage is that it allows the wearer to move around more freely without dislodging it. The Herbst device is generally used for cases of sleep apnea that are considered mild, or to alleviate loud snoring.
If you feel that you may have sleep apnea, or have a family member who you suspect may be suffering, contact Portola Dental Group today and schedule a consultation with our dentists.