Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it
    is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the
    throat collapses during sleep.
  • Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to
    signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control center.

Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Being male
  • Being overweight
  • Being over age 40
  • Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
  • Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea
  • Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems

What Are the Effects of Sleep Apnea?

If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk of health problems, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Worsening of ADHD
  • Headaches
  • In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, and academic underachievement in children and adolescents.

SYMPTOMS

  • Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
  • Loud snoring
  • Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
  • Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
  • Sleepiness while driving
  • Morning headaches
  • Restless sleep
  • Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex, recurrent awakenings or insomnia

What is oral appliance therapy (OAT)?

Oral appliance therapy, also known as OAT, involves wearing a dental device or mouthpiece while you are sleeping to help
alleviate snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. An oral appliance looks similar to a mouth guard and can be used to hold your
tongue or jaw in place and stop your airway from being blocked.


Why is oral appliance therapy used?

OAT is a treatment solution used to help stop snoring and treat sleep apnea by preventing the collapse of your airway using a
dental device that is similar to a mouth guard.


What does oral appliance therapy involve?

Oral appliance therapy involves a custom fitting by a dental sleep specialist. Once the device is fitted, it can be worn at night to
help control your snoring or sleep apnea. Although there are many types of oral devices, they often fall within the following
categories:
Mandibular advancement device involves slightly repositioning your lower jaw to help your airway remain open as
you sleep.

Tongue retaining device involves placing your tongue into a soft plastic oral device that gently holds your tongue
outside of your mouth to help keep your airway open and allow you to breathe through your nose.
What are the benefits of using oral appliance therapy?

Oral appliance therapy can help restore your quality of sleep by alleviating snoring and sleep apnea. By treating sleep apnea, you
can also help lower your risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. Other benefits of oral appliance therapy include:

  • Restored daily energy
  • Improved well-being
  • Simple to use
  • Easy to carry
  • Comfortable
  • Non-invasive