Sleep apnea is a serious, sometimes fatal medical disorder that affects around 10% of American men over the age of 40, and 6% of American women of the same age. Sleep apnea sufferers completely stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night. Normal breathing ceases because the airway becomes obstructed, causing a serious reduction of airflow to the lungs.
There are a number of dental devices that can be used to alleviate this condition. The goal of most of these devices is to separate the jaws and push them forward slightly. This slight repositioning opens up the airway, and allows oxygen to flow freely again. Wearers of sleep apnea dental devices report that they stop loud snoring, feel more rested in the daytime, and are much more comfortable going to sleep. Sleep apnea appliances work best on patients who are not significantly overweight. They offer a viable alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
Sleep apnea appliances fall into two categories: fixed and adjustable. Here are brief descriptions of some commonly used sleep apnea dental appliances:
SomnoDent is a custom made appliance, comprised of upper and lower dental plates with a unique patented fin coupling component, which allows normal mouth opening and closing. SomnoDent oral appliances are advanced in 1/10th mm increments allowing patients with previous TMD/TMJ concerns to move at a slower pace.
SomnoDent oral appliances offered:
- SomnoDent Flex is made from unique SMH BFLEX material and acrylic that provides superior retention and comfort. This model may be preferred where crown and bridge work is present.
- SomnoDent Classic is made from the highest quality orthodontic acrylic, the Classic has been designed to offer durability, comfort and quality.
- SomnoDent Herbst comes in both options, soft "Flex" liner as well as the "Classic" option. This oral appliance is lined with metal reinforcement to ensure maximum strength and is held together with two hinge attachments. The Herbst oral appliance is required by Medicare, Blue Cross of Idaho and Regence insurance.
Micr02 design is patient specific to maximize tongue space and the ability to open and close during wear. These devices do not require any mechanical adjustments, like turning screws with keys or changing positions with elastics. Micr02 oral appliances advance in 1mm increments by exchanging out custom advanced trays prescribed by your dentist.
The patient or dentist can project the jaw forwards in increments of .5mm at a time up to 15mm. Ultra light and flexible, it is one of the lightest devices on the market with durability guaranteed. The Narval appliance is made Made of highly resilient and durable biocompatible polymer material, Narval is metal-free, flexible and lightweight.
Herbst Telescopic Appliance
The Herbst appliance is held in the mouth by clasps and friction grips. It is made of acrylic, and contains adjustable metal wiring. The advantage of this appliance is that the wearer is able to move vertically and laterally without dislodging the appliance. The Herbst appliance is usually used in mild and moderate cases of sleep apnea, and can also alleviate loud snoring effectively. The Herbst oral appliance is required by Medicare, Blue Cross of Idaho and Regence insurance.
If you have questions or concerns about sleep apnea appliances, please ask your dentist.