What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that is characterized by interruptions of breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea occurs when breathing is suspended for periods of 10 seconds or longer. Pauses in breathing occur 5 times or more an hour during sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea that occurs when a person has trouble breathing during sleep due to a blockage located in the back of the airway.
Central Sleep Apnea occurs when a person stops breathing at night due to a problem in the brain, resulting in the brain failing to signal the breathing muscles with the message to breathe.
Mixed Sleep Apnea is a combination of both OSA and Central Sleep Apnea. When sleep apnea remains untreated it can lead to serious health implications such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, brain damage, diabetes, depression, obesity, and impotency.
What are the treatment options?
Sleep apnea treatment involves maintaining an open airway during sleep and preventing the airway from collapsing. Treatment options include: a CPAP machine, an oral appliance or various types of surgery involving the nasal and/or oral airways. Below are illustrations that indicate an open airway and a blocked airway. The blocked airway is caused by an obstruction in the airway anatomy that limits or prevents air from passing through the airway.
How does an oral appliance work and when is it used?
An oral appliance is a custom fabricated mouthpiece that is similar to an orthodontic retainer or a sports mouthguard.
The appliance is worn at night over the teeth and it functions to keep the airway from collapsing during sleep. Airway maintenance is achieved by comfortably repositioning the lower jaw and tongue forward or by restraining the tongue to keep the airway open.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral sleep appliances as a first line treatment option for individuals with mild or moderate sleep apnea or for those who are unable to use CPAP successfully.
What are the benefits of an Oral Appliance?
An oral sleep appliance can be a comfortable and convenient treatment option in the management of snoring and sleep apnea. They are easy to use, travel friendly and often covered by medical insurance.
Does Insurance Pay for Oral Appliances?
Yes. Many medical (not dental) insurance companies pay for the cost of the oral sleep appliance treatment if proper medical protocol is followed by an experienced and qualified provider.
Which medical provider is best qualified to provide oral sleep appliances?
Dentists are trained as the medical experts of the oral cavity and often times can see potential airway issues in their patens during office visits and during oral treatment. Dentists are the most qualified medical professional to be able to determine the proper position the mandible (jaw) in optimizing the airway diameter. They are also able to monitor if any oral movement occurs as a result of the oral appliance.
This page is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as definitive or binding medical advice. Every individual is medically different. Individuals should see their doctors for specific information and/or treatment.