Mouthpiece devices, sometime known as mandibular advancement splints or dental appliances, have been very effective for snorers including others who were suffering from moderate or mild but disruptive sleep apnea. They are normally tiny plastic devices that are worn inside the mouth by patients during sleep so as to prevent soft tissues in the throat from collapsing and disrupting the air passage. This device brings forward the lower jaw or lifts the soft palate. There are other devices that stop the falling back of the tongue over the windpipe.
These special appliances are usually fit in by a personal dentist according to an individual’s condition. Usually, the doctor takes the shape of the patient’s mouth and then sends it off for the making of a suitable mouthpiece or at times makes it themselves. It is important for a patient who is using a mouthpiece to check with their doctors incase they experience some pain or discomfort while using this device. The user may need regular visits to the doctor so that the mouth piece can be adjusted to fit in better.
Candidates for Oral Appliances
Despite the fact that most people begin sleep apnea treatment with either surgical options or CPAP machine, there is nothing to prevent them from starting with the dental mouth piece. However, if CPAP machine and surgical options treatment fail to work, then the patients who are suitable for these oral appliances are those suffering from mild or moderate disruptive sleep apnea. The best candidates for this treatment are determined using the physical features. These features influence the way a patient will respond to the oral appliance. For example, people who have parallel jaw line with small chins and healthy teeth are the best candidates for this method of treatment.
Selecting Dental Mouthpieces
However, to get the best fit, it is more advisable for the dentist and the sleep doctor to work closely together. Be very careful if one disregards the other.
There are forty oral appliances available in the market but only sixteen are FDA approved. Regardless of some of the untested appliances being able to work well, a patient may be more comfortable using the FDA approved devices. However, since it is these pieces of silicon and plastic that will be inserted into the patience’s mouth; their personal preferences must be taken into consideration. Furthermore, the more comfortable the oral device is, the higher the probability of the patient to go on using the mouth piece.
Cost of Dental Appliance
Depending on the user’s medical insurance, the patient may be forced to use money from their pocket to purchase the dental appliance. Most insurance companies do not provide cover for them, claiming that they use this device for the treatment of sleep apnea is experimental. It looks like the FDA approval is not good enough to convince some of these insurance companies.
Most Common Side Effects
Excess production of saliva
Dryness in the mouth
Pain in the jaw
Potential Serious Side Effects
However, there are other long term side effects which may need more attention. Up to 50% of the mouth piece users complain of developing changes in jaw position or even tooth position. It is advisable to report to the doctor immediately a user believes that their jaw or teeth are switching positions due to the oral appliance. Fortunately, most of the minor side effects can be solved by switching to another oral appliance or by adjusting the mouthpiece. The user may also be required to clean the sleep apnea dental mouth piece daily.