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:
TAP® 3 (Thornton Adjustable Positioner)
The TAP® 3 is the smallest, most comfortable member of the TAP family. It is a two-part custom-created sleep apnea appliance that fits over the teeth in much the same way as a sports mouthguard. The TAP® 3 projects the jaw forward to prevent the tongue and soft tissues from impeding the airway. The lower jaw positioner is adjustable, which means that it can be altered to suit the comfort level of the wearer. The TAP® 3 appliance can accommodate the three main types of malocclusion, and allows the lips to fully close.
The EMA® (Elastic Mandibular Advancement) oral appliance is a customized removable appliance created for the noninvasive treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The appliance is designed to both advance the mandible and open the bite to allow for less restricted airflow during sleep.
EMA devices help promote a deeper, more restful sleep by preventing snoring and relieving the symptoms of OSA. The EMA does not interfere with breathing through the mouth, even in cases of congested nasal passages. It has many options for advancement with nine strap lengths (13 mm–21 mm) and four different elastic tension options, indicated by color. The shorter the strap, the farther the mandible is advanced. The 36 different straps allow for the most effective repositioning of the jaw with maximum comfort. Due to the varying elastic bands, non-restricted lateral/protrusive movement is possible while wearing the device.
Silent Nite® sl
Snoring can be a real problem, not only for the person who snores, but also for the partner and other family members who live with the snorer. However, there is a dentist-prescribed solution for a more restful night’s sleep: Silent Nite® sl. This affordable device is flexible, thin and comfortable for your patients, and it exhibits documented clinical success in mitigating or even preventing the disruptive, unhealthy effects of snoring and sleep apnea.
Silent Nite sl positions the lower jaw forward using special Side-Link connectors that are attached to upper and lower trays. These trays are comprised of a soft inner layer with a hard outer layer that is durable and BPA-free. The new, improved connectors are stronger than those found on the original Silent Nite and are easily interchangeable by the patient
***If you have questions or concerns about sleep apnea appliances, please ask your dentist.