Q: I have severe snoring and sleep apnea. I don’t want to use a CPAP machine, which has been prescribed. Can a dental appliance help me?
A: Yes. Appliances called mandibular advancement devices can help with snoring and reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. The best place to start is with a sleep study. Once we know how severe your apnea is, the treatment plan can be formulated.
You snore when the tongue falls back partially or completely obstructs the airway. Sometimes snoring can also be caused by a very flabby soft palate. But it becomes dangerous when the snoring is associated with sleep apnea which is a partial or complete obstruction of the airway. Patients who have apnea wake up multiple times during their sleep without even realising it. They are usually constantly tired and lethargic and will fall asleep the first chance they get. Sometimes it could happen during mid-conversation or even at the traffic light!
Please remember that snoring is not always related to sleep apnea. But people who have sleep apnea always snore. If you do have severe sleep apnea then a CPAP machine is the treatment of choice. They have gotten significantly better over the years and are much more comfortable than the older generation of machines. However, you still have to deal with the mask and some noise. If you absolutely cannot tolerate the mask of the CPAP machine then a dental appliance can help you.
A dental anti-snoring appliance works by positioning the jaw slightly forward so that the tongue moves out of the way and opens up the airway. The newer devices are adjustable so the patient or the dentist can very easily adjust the amount of jaw protrusion to balance out the comfort and ease of breathing. The process of making a dental anti-snoring device usually takes two to three sittings and is quick and painless. Follow-ups are recommended to make sure that it continues to fit well and that you (and your spouse!) are able to sleep well.
Meanwhile, please continue with your CPAP until you get your dental appliance delivered and adjusted to minimize the risk of any adverse effects of the apnea.
Dr Tanveer Ahmed is medical director at New Ivory Dental & Implant Clinic. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.