Mouthpiece devices — also known as dental snoring appliances, or mandibular advancement splints — have been effective for many snorers, including those suffering from mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnea. They are usually small plastic devices worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft throat tissues from collapsing and obstructing the airway. They do this by bringing your lower jaw forward and/or by lifting your soft palate. Some devices also stop the tongue from falling back over your windpipe.
What are Dental Snoring Appliances?
A dental appliance is a device that the patient wears in their mouth as they sleep that is intended to prevent vibration and collapse of the upper airway. There are three basic kinds of dental appliances that are used in the treatment of Snoring and OSA:
- Devices that pull the tongue forward that are useful in properly selected patients.
- Devices that use a flange at the base of the tongue to hold the tongue out of the pharynx which are ineffective and often dangerous.
- Devices that advance the mandible and which are the most effective kind.
What are the health effects of snoring?
Most chronic snorers are often overweight and middle-aged. Snoring may indicate the more serious underlying medical condition sleep apnea (see below). Severe snoring can cause profound marital discord and sleep deprivation for both the snorer and bed partner. The effects of sleep deprivation are as follows:
- Increased risk for vehicular and industrial accidents
- Daytime sleepiness
- Reduced immune system responsiveness
- Decreased productivity
- Slower reaction time
In addition, some research has linked snoring to the following:
- Premature death
- Type II diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea?
Snoring is loud, unwanted noise (sound) associated with breathing during sleep. At the other end of the sleep disordered breathing spectrum is sleep apnea which is a cessation of breathing for ten seconds or longer during sleep. A person with sleep apnea usually awakens hundreds of times during the night but usually does not remember the awakenings. Snoring is usually associated with sleep apnea but having snoring during sleep does not necessarily mean a person has sleep apnea. To properly differentiate primary snoring (simple snoring) from sleep apnea either a sleep diagnostic test must be done at home (i.e., unattended or domicilatory recording) or in the sleep laboratory (attended recording).
Once a proper diagnosis is made, a snoring treatment solution can be implemented. Your Progressive Dentist will usually be the one to fit these special appliances to meet your individual condition. Typically they will take a mold of your mouth and then either send off for a custom mouthpiece or fashion it themselves.