The Tooth of the Matter: A Dental Blog
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The Tooth of the Matter: A Dental Blog

You only have one set of adult teeth, and they need to last until you are 80, 90, or beyond. The actions you take towards your teeth today will either benefit you or harm you in the future. Of course, good dental care starts with seeing a dentist regularly. You should go in for cleanings and checkups, and any other time you think something might be amiss with your teeth. Education is important when it comes to any aspect of your health, so start reading the articles on this website to educate yourself about dentists and dental care. We promise that when you're 80 and you still have your teeth, you won't regret the time spent.


The Tooth of the Matter: A Dental Blog

Understanding Oral Devices For Sleep Apnea

Sofia Curtis

If you have a relatively mild case of sleep apnea, then your doctor may suggest the use of an oral appliance device instead of a CPAP machine. In this situation, your dentist can help you with the device and there are a few different options that the professional may suggest. Keep reading to learn what these appliances are.

Mandibular Positioning Device

Sleep apnea is caused by the obstruction of the airway when you sleep. This obstruction disrupts your breathing and your body wakes you up in response. The obstruction is caused by your own tissues and involves the throat collapsing inward and the tongue falling towards the back of the mouth. This sort of problem is due to the relaxation of your musculature while you sleep. 

To assist with this sort of problem, certain oral appliances reposition the mandible, which is the lower part of the jaw. Specifically, they force the jaw forward and down a small amount and this prevents the collapsing of the relaxed tissues into the airway. 

The positioning device is called a mandibular advancement device or an adjustable positioner. It looks much like a retainer for orthodontics and slips over the teeth on the upper and lower parts of the jaw. The device has a spring between the two parts of the "retainer" and the spring is adjusted to move the jaw forward. Your dentist can make the original adjustment and he then will advance or tighten the spring to move the jaw forward in small increments until your sleep apnea condition is controlled.

Due to the stress on the temporomandibular joint, you want just enough tension to open up the airway. And, if you notice any jaw joint pain after an adjustment, make sure to let your dentist know so the spring part of the device can be loosened a bit.

Tongue Positioning Device

In some cases, sleep apnea is the result of tongue obstruction alone without the involvement of the throat. In this case, your dentist can make you an oral appliance that holds your tongue down and forward so it cannot fall backward. This keeps the airway open and allows you to breathe.

The device is called a tongue positioner and sits on the teeth and extends out from the front of the mouth. The device features a small retainer that holds the device on the teeth and a large hollow bulb on the exterior. The bulb allows you to slip your tongue out of the mouth and into the device. You can then press down, which causes suction that keeps your tongue in place. 

You should keep in mind that the device does require you to essentially have your tongue sticking out all night. This can be uncomfortable for some people. Contact a facility like Cusumano Oral Surgery & Implant Center today.