There are two basic types of dental appliances typically used to help with cases of sleep apnea, a mandibular device and a tongue retaining device. These dental appliances perform three essential purposes. They pull the lower jaw forward slightly to ensure the airway is open, force the tongue into alternate positions to prevent it from falling back and blocking the airway or do both of these actions. There are many benefits from getting a good night’s rest and dental appliances can be useful to prevent snoring or apnea so individuals can sleep better. However, there are both pros and cons associated with these devices.
Dental Appliances Pros
Many patients can wear dental devices comfortably and they can replace a CPAP mask. The CPAP can also cause the nasal cavity to become dry and itchy, but appliances do not. For many patients, a dental appliance working with PAP therapy is effective. Other machines and devices can turn off while sleeping, or be entangling. Dental devices do not have anything to entangle a person. Since there is no equipment, dental devices are easy to travel with. And finally, a dental appliance is less expensive than a CPAP device and it may be covered by medical insurance.
Dental Appliances Cons
For some people, a dental device can cause pain or soreness in the jaw, teeth or gums. Some patients have experienced symptoms including excessive salivation and others a dry mouth. Occasionally, there has been damage to the jaw position, or bite position. Sometimes this damage is permanent, but more often it is temporary and easily treatable. A dental appliance can interfere with some dental restorations such as crowns and bridges. An appliance may need to be custom fitted and some may find them difficult to get used to wearing.