Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Sleep apnea is one of the life threatening conditions dentistry can offer a solution for. It should never be ignored. A Sleep study is required to assess both the type of apneic episodes occurring and their severity. The obstruction airway apneic episodes can be controlled most of the time by intra-oral devises which prevent airway obstruction. C PAP machines force breathing and are 100% effective. Some people find them objectionable and will not use them. Dental appliances may offer a preferable alternative.
Both snoring and apnea can occur when the back of the tongue and the soft palate contact and obstruct the airway. Partial obstruction is called snoring and complete obstruction is apnea. Dental appliances serve to hold the lower jaw down and forward during sleep. As the tongue is attached to the lower jaw, it moves down and forward also, away from the soft palate and thus opens the airway.
There are multiple designs and all accomplish the same thing. As they must hold the lower jaw in a non-physiologic position there are issues inherent to their use. For this reason, a clinical assessment of a patient’s TMJ’s should precede the use of such an appliance.