Research shows that many people experience snoring throughout their lifetime. The snoring is typically a manifestation of Obstructive Sleep Apnea as well as other health issues. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has increasingly caught the world’s attention owing to its potential to deteriorate the quality of life and low treatability rate. Research shows that OSA can lead to an apnea event where breathing is hampered for a few seconds. Breathing thus becomes difficult causing a decrease in oxygen concentration in the blood. Subsequently, some organs could experience stress during such conditions, and this leads to various health issues. Furthermore, since apnea can impede breathing, it is considered a life-threatening condition. Sleep apnea can also cause daytime exhaustion, a problem known to cause many car accidents.
Consulting a dentist is crucial to avoid such adverse occurrences. Some of the treatment measures include the use of snoring appliances. Snoring appliances are fitting dental pieces placed in the mouth to alter the position of the jaw, soft palate, and the tongue and are used to mitigate snoring as well as the symptoms of mild or moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The appliances are also referred to as Mandibular Repositioning Appliances (MRA), Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS), or Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD). The devices resemble a mouth guard and are placed in the mouth before going to bed. Typically, the snoring devices are recommended for people whose OSA is triggered by a narrow airway passage or from a situation where the tongue relaxes back into the airway during sleep thus impeding normal breathing.
What Is Snoring?
Snoring occurs when the tissues of the throat and nose vibrate resulting in harsh or hoarse sounds. The condition has the potential to impede breathing partially and could be a sign of OSA. However, there are other causative factors of OSA including congestion, alcohol use, pregnancy, obesity, and allergies.
Snoring appliances work by clearing the obstruction. The appliance pushes the lower jaw forward and nudges the airway open. Once the breathing passages are opened, the vibrations caused by obstruction recede and snoring stops. In addition to preventing snoring, snoring appliances can help to improve alertness, concentration, and emotional stability during the day.
How Effective Are Snoring Appliances?
Similar to other forms of treatment, people respond differently to the appliances. For individuals with mild to moderate sleep apnea, there is usually a high rate of success. Additionally, for an individual who is not overweight, and for those who experience reduced apnea when they lie on their side, compared to lying on the back, such appliances have a high success rate. Research also shows that the effectiveness of snoring appliances is compromised in individuals diagnosed with central sleep apnea. However, it is only when one tries the device that one can see the effect.
What Are the Positive Aspects of Snoring Appliances?
In addition to being portable, snoring appliances are a non-invasive form of treatment. Therefore, it is possible to carry the device anywhere in the purse or bag. Moreover, there is usually no need for surgery. Also, due to their ease of use, it is simple to comply with treatment.
Are There Any Side Effects?
If the appliance is used the right way, then it is unlikely to cause adverse side effects. However, due to the mechanism of action which relies on pushing the jaw forward, the initial use of the appliance results in discomfort. The discomfort is felt at the joint located at the back of the jaw but usually dissipates in the morning. With prolonged use, the discomfort tends to ease.
What to Expect
If a doctor recommends the snoring appliance as an option for treatment of snoring, it is crucial to visit a qualified dentist who has experience in handling snoring for proper fitting and follow up therapy. The initial meeting with the dentist serves to provide an overview of the benefits of the treatment, a description of the side effects, and the cost of the treatment. Upon a complete clinical evaluation of the teeth, airway, tongue, and jaw, the dentist then takes an impression of the teeth.
Each person has a uniquely shaped mouth and jaw. Consequently, it is essential for a person to have a custom appliance explicitly made to fit them. In ideal circumstances, the dentist should take the impression of a patient’s teeth and send the mold to the lab to be developed.
The process could take between two to three weeks. When the appliance is ready, the dentist then fits the device. Upon fitting in the mouth, the appliance is modified to move the jaw forward to an ideal position where the patient feels a balance between effectiveness and comfort. With the help of an in-built screw adjustment, the dentist optimizes the position of the appliance over a period of time in subsequent follow-up visits.
What about Ready-Made Snoring Appliances?
There is the option of purchasing ready-made snoring appliances, but since the appliance is meant to be used for a long time, it is vital for it to be fitted for a particular mouth. Failure to get the right custom-made appliance can aggravate the side effects and reduce the overall effectiveness of the appliance. Therefore, it is advisable to visit the dentist to get the right size. Ready-made devices could cause side effects if not suitably selected.
It is possible for plaque to gradually build up on appliances, similar to teeth. Therefore, it is imperative to wash the appliances thoroughly every day. Further, it is essential to keep it dry and to keep it out of reach of children and pets. Additionally, before put in the snoring appliance every day, it is essential to brush and floss to minimise the likelihood of bacteria from the teeth accumulating on the snoring appliance.
If one begins to snore again after prolonged use, then it is essential to have the snoring appliance reviewed by the dentist for further adjustment. However, some people consider other treatments for their snoring after prolonged use of appliances.
Treating sleep apnea is essential in improving the overall quality of life. Studies show that treating the condition can improve the health of the heart, body, and well as the mind.