Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by a complete collapse of the upper airway when the muscles relax during sleep. This causes the patient to stop breathing during the night. The tongue plays a major role in the airway collapse as it falls back in the throat.
In 2006, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (the principal clinical group for health issues related to sleep), deemed dental devices as a viable and effective option in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
There are numerous dental sleep devices approved by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration).
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD)
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) are the most common dental devices used in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Roughly similar in shape to a sports mouth guard, these custom devices open the airway by positioning the lower jaw, the tongue and other airway muscles forward.
Most commonly these devices are adjustable so that it can be positioned to maximize effectiveness yet minimize side effects.
Tongue Retaining Devices (TRD)
Tongue Retaining Devices (TRD) function by holding the tongue in a forward position. As the name implies, this type of device focuses on moving the tongue forward and not the lower jaw. While tongue-retaining devices have less side effects, they can also be less comfortable when compared to Mandibular Advancement Devices.
CPAP Combined With Dental Sleep Device Therapy
Combining CPAP with Dental Sleep Device Therapy is worth mentioning.
Problems associated with the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) can be due to the high pressures and uncomfortable fit of the face or nose mask. One option that may exist is to utilize a dental sleep device in conjunction with the CPAP. As a result, many times, the pressure of the CPAP can be reduced without its effectiveness suffering.