Seeing a Dentist for Sleep Apnoea Treatment
Your dentist will first examine your teeth, mouth and TMJ (Temporomandibular Joints). This is to determine if Mandibular Advancement Devices – also know as Dental Sleep Devices or Jaw Advancing Devices – are suitable for you. If they are, your dentist will make models of your teeth. These models are then used to craft your oral appliance, which is custom fit to prevent jaw damage.
Types of Oral Appliances Used to Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
Mandibular Advancement Devices are the most commonly used oral appliances. They look like mouth guards, but work by pushing your jaw forward to correct its position. This helps to tighten the muscles that collapse during sleep apnoeas, which keeps your throat open for better airflow.
These oral appliances may even strengthen your respiratory muscles over time, and help to eliminate or reduce sleep apnoeas. Some of these appliances are adjustable, which enables you to alter the position of your jaw.
Tongue-retainers are less common, and work by holding your tongue in a forward position. This prevents it from falling back into your airway. They may not be as comfortable or practical, but are more suitable for certain individuals.
Other Approaches to Managing Sleep Apnoea
Some adults and children may also benefit from orofacial myofunctional therapy. These face and mouth exercises improve tongue positioning, and strengthen the muscles used for breathing.
Your dentist should work closely with you to track improvements or a lack thereof. Whilst these devices may be uncomfortable in the beginning, you should get used to them after a while. It is also best to go through your dentist, instead of buying generic oral appliances. This ensures full effectiveness and proper treatment for your sleep apnoea.
The Benefits of Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnoea Treatment
Oral appliances are known to have fewer side effects, as they are custom-made. Of all the treatments available, they are the least invasive and also the most affordable. They are great for their simplicity, discreteness and portability as well.
Many patients on the CPAP machine are non-compliant due to the discomfort. Hence even though it works, that means nothing if the instructions are not carried out. Oral appliances do not need electricity to work; you pop it into your mouth and go straight to bed. Many patients see improvement right from their first use at night.
The Consequences of Oral Appliance Usage
Some patients who use oral appliances experience TMD or other mouth related pain. Others report a strange sensation shortly after removing their devices, where they have difficulty repositioning their teeth. Some experience teeth shifting after prolonged use. It is vital that you work closely with your dentist to catch and correct these issues early on.
The Connection Between TMD and Sleep Apnoea
Sleep apnoea is often related to underdevelopment of the jaws. Teeth that meet in the wrong places can lead to issues that appear symptomatic, but boils down to a root cause. Some patients grind their teeth during disturbances in their sleep cycles. This is the body’s attempt to open the airways, or to find a proper bite. Such issues can lead to TMD, and pain can manifest anywhere within the face. From the teeth, to the mouth, jaw, forehead and even ears.
Poor posture can also have a trickle down effect that results in a poor bite and airflow. The human head weighs about 3.5kg – 4.5kg; that weight places a strain on your vertebrae and neck muscles, the further away it is from its correct axis – centred over the shoulders.
How Nourish Dental Care Can Help with Sleep Apnoea
Nourish Dental Care uses the latest technology to diagnose, treat and manage each patient’s condition. Dr. Eric Chionh who runs the practice has many years of experience treating a myriad of cases. He focuses on TMD, pain & sleep dentistry, dental implants and other mouth and jaw conditions.
He holds full membership in all four Royal Surgical Colleges of the United Kingdom & Ireland. He has also gone through formal residency training in Orofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Medicine, to earn his certification and accreditation in these areas. Learn more on our About page here.