Oral Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea

Do you snore? While snoring can be mildly annoying to anyone who shares a bed with you, it is also the most common symptom of a serious health condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

When you have OSA, you stop breathing numerous times throughout the night for periods that last anywhere from several seconds to a minute or more. When your brain notices your blood oxygen levels dropping, it sends a signal that causes you to briefly wake up and start breathing again. These constant interruptions disturb your sleep throughout the night resulting in symptoms indicative of sleep deprivation.

Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The proper diagnosis of sleep apnea requires an overnight sleep study performed by an accredited sleep center. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment or ask your doctor for a referral:

  • Chronic fatigue and sleepiness during the day
  • Headaches when you first wake up
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Forgetfulness

Ask your partner to describe your snoring. Snoring associated with sleep apnea is loud and frequent, and it has no discernible pattern. It starts and stops throughout the night and is often accompanied by repeated gasping or snorting sounds, which is your body attempting to breathe again.

Not only does OSA create complications that make day-to-day life more challenging, it also has serious long-term repercussions. Those who suffer from OSA are more likely to be in an automobile or work-related accident, and OSA is also associated with high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.

Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea

If you’ve been diagnosed with OSA, the first line of treatment recommended is typically CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure. While CPAP treats OSA effectively, 25 to 50 percent of those who suffer from OSA are either unable to tolerate the CPAP or have difficulty complying with the treatment for a variety of reasons.

Oral appliance therapy can help people who suffer from snoring and OSA. Many patients prefer it to CPAP and find it more convenient and less intrusive. Keene dentist Dr. Sean Drower is experienced in the use of oral appliance therapy to treat physician-diagnosed mild to moderate OSA.

Custom-Made Appliances to Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea

While some oral appliances are sold over-the-counter and suggest that they offer the same benefits as the device you get from a dentist, these appliances are not custom-made to fit your needs, and we don’t recommend them. We fit you personally for your appliance, which fits in your mouth like an orthodontic retainer or a sports mouth guard.

Depending on your needs, the nighttime snore guard repositions your tongue or your lower jaw to allow air to flow freely without obstruction. You will quickly adjust to your new night guard, and with ongoing treatment, you (and your partner!) can finally get a good night’s rest and feel great the next day.

To find out more about snoring and sleep apnea and to schedule an examination and consultation with Dr. Drower, please call our Keene, NH dental office today!