Types of sleep apnoea therapy
There are many types of dental appliances available for the treatment of sleep apnoea. Before making a choice, it’s important that you know what to look for and make sure that it is safe, comfortable and appropriate for your specific case. Prior to commencing treatment, you may be required to go for a detailed sleep study test in order to determine the nature – and severity – of your condition. A qualified sleep physician will be able to review your test results and recommended a suitable course of therapy, which may or may not involve dental appliances.
One of the most prescribed dental solutions for sleep apnoea is that of the Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS) or Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD). The Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA)-approved anti-snoring device is worn on the teeth during sleep. Designed to hold the mandible (lower jaw) and connected tissue forward and clear of the airway, the splint helps to prevent the soft tissue from obstructing the airway so as not to disrupt normal breathing patterns. A dentist is able to customise the dental appliance to the unique shape and size of your mouth. Research has shown the efficacy of the Mandibular Advancement Splint in treating mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea. Not only does the oral appliance therapy help to stop the snoring, it can improve your sleep apnoea condition – by drastically reducing the number of apnoea events throughout the night.
This form of therapy is extremely safe and discreet. The splint requires no power to operate and is highly portable. It is a small and unobtrusive device that you can wear in your mouth for long hours without it interfering with your lifestyle. You can talk and drink without anyone noticing the splint in your mouth. It does not require any extensive procedures hence providing a pain-free alternative to surgery.
The treatment involves taking dental impressions to create a mould, from which the mouthpiece is made. The precise dimensions and data provided by the impressions will be sent to a dental lab where the splints will take approximately 2-4 weeks to make. Your dentist will then fit the appliance over your teeth and make final adjustments to ensure optimum fit for comfort and efficiency. Further visits may be required to allow the dentist to assess your condition and adjust the appliance accordingly.
It may take a few weeks before you get used to having a splint in your mouth. You may ease into the splint-wearing regime by putting it on a couple of hours before going to bed. Some people experience slight discomfort in the first few weeks mainly because their jaw muscles have yet to adjust to the forward inclining position, which can cause minor aches. Although it may take some time, the symptoms usually subside as the lower tongue and mandible grows accustomed to the presence of the dental appliance.
Of course, it’s horses for courses – oral appliance therapy does not work with every patient. The same must be said of all the other sleep apnoea therapy including CPAP or ENT surgery. Following your diagnostic sleep study, discuss your options with your sleep physician, and you will have a clearer idea as to whether an oral appliance therapy will work best for your situation.
To find out more about sleep apnoea therapy, please book an appointment for a consultation with Dr Luke Cronin at Quality Dental in North Sydney by calling (02) 9922 1159 or visit www.qualitydental.com.au