An oral appliance for sleep apnea is made from plastic or silicone. It is placed in the mouth while sleeping so that it can hold the mouth in a position that allows for improved breathing. There are several different types of sleep apnea oral appliances, and the dentist can help each patient determine what will work best for them. This type of appliance is often highly successful in reducing or preventing sleep apnea.
People who are at a healthy weight, who are under 65, who don't have jaw malformation, and who are otherwise healthy may be excellent candidates for sleep apnea treatment using an oral appliance. The appliance tends to work best in people who have most of their sleep interruptions while they are on their backs.
Although there are sleep apnea appliances that are "one size fits all," those do not tend to work nearly as well as custom appliances. Having a custom-fitted oral appliance means that there is a much lower chance of the oral appliance falling out or shifting while the patient is sleeping.
There are three options in oral appliances today. The EMA oral appliance treats snoring and obstructive sleep apnea noninvasively. It advances the mandible and opens the bite for better airflow. The EMA won't interfere with breathing through the mouth, even if the patient is congested. The TAP oral appliance treats snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. It is often used as an alternative to CPAP machines and even surgery. The Herbst oral appliance moves the lower jaw forward to correct the bite. It may be used along with braces, and is often used for sleep apnea and snoring. This appliance is often used in young patients and is attached to the molars.
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