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Sleep Apnea Appliances

Sleep-disordered breathing (snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnea) is a serious medical condition with the potential to pose serious health risks since it disrupts normal sleep patterns and can reduce normal blood oxygen levels. The reduction in normal blood oxygen levels may result in excessive daytime sleepiness, irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke. An oral appliance therapy for snoring/obstructive sleep apnea attempts to assist breathing during sleep by keeping the tongue and jaw in a forward position during sleeping hours. Oral appliance therapy has effectively treated many patients. Its effectiveness is dependent upon multiple factors including but not limited to the upper and lower jawbone relationship, the status of the temporomandibular joint, and the bite. Oral sleep disordered breathing appliances can be fabricated only with a physician order. Therefore, a referral from a physician along with the sleep study documenting obstructive sleep apnea is necessary before seeing the dentist. After the appliance has been delivered, a post-adjustment sleep study is necessary to objectively assure effective treatment.

There are side effects and complications of oral appliance therapy. Short term side effects include excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing with the appliance in place, sore jaws, sore teeth, jaw joint pain, dry mouth, gum pain, loosening of teeth, short term bite changes, and dislodgement of crowns and bridges. Long term complications include permanent bite changes which can only be corrected with braces or new restorations. Before an appliance is fabricated, your dentist will review the advantages and complications of treatment. (Sleep Disordered Breathing Consent)

Treatment includes making impressions of the upper and lower teeth. There are various types of sleep disordered breathing appliances including but not limited to a Herbst® appliance, a tongue positioning appliance, a Klearway® appliance, SomnoMed® appliance, a snoring appliance and a Thornton appliance.