Many people — and by association their sleep partners — suffer from the effects of snoring. More than just a nuisance, it’s often a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The most common treatment for OSA is a CPAP machine, but Dr. Bruce Spink, a dentist in Birmingham, AL, can help with an alternative treatment in the form of an oral appliance to wear while you’re asleep.
Q: What causes sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is most commonly associated with obesity or excess weight and is also often seen in men over 50 and smokers. Certain sleep positions can cause the obstruction of the airway as the muscles relax during sleep, collapsing and restricting airflow to the rest of the body. The sleeper may awake multiple times overnight gasping for air, wake up feeling tired, fall asleep during the day, and have issues with memory and concentration.
Q: I thought the only option for sleep apnea was CPAP therapy. How does the oral appliance work?
While CPAP therapy is the most commonly prescribed sleep apnea treatment, an oral appliance offers a similar result. Both are different methods of keeping the airway open during sleep, when the soft tissues in the mouth are more relaxed.
Instead of a constant airflow keeping the airway open during sleep, as is the case with CPAP therapy, the oral appliance is custom-fitted to the patient’s mouth to keep the airway open. The device repositions the bottom jaw, moving it forward to keep the soft tissue from collapsing over the airway. It’s also built from strong enough material to withstand bruxism, or teeth grinding, so even nighttime teeth-grinders can benefit from the device.
Q: How comfortable is a sleep apnea oral appliance?
Dr. Spink meets with patients for an individual consultation where they will examine the mouth and make sure you’re fitted correctly and comfortably. The device does reposition the jaw, but it’s designed to fit comfortably inside the mouth with as little disruption to sleep as possible. Most patients report a reduction in snoring while using the oral appliance, leading to better sleep and happier mornings!
Q: Do I have to see a dentist to get it?
What makes an oral device comfortable and effective is how well it’s fitted to the individual patient’s mouth. Dr. Spink will meet with you to discuss your needs, gather precise measurements specific to your mouth, and will work with you to make sure the device is as comfortable as possible. The last thing we want is for you to stop snoring but then wake up with a sore jaw!
Q: What can I expect from sleep apnea treatment with Dr. Spink?
Dr. Spink uses the Vivos system to treat sleep apnea, sleep-disordered breathing and bite problems associated with sleep disorders. Vivos is a unique system providing advanced diagnostics, treatment and patient education for addressing symptoms and improving oral health and wellness.
Dr. Spink will use digital imaging and dental impressions to select and order the most suitable oral appliance. The goal of your treatment is to minimize or eliminate apnea episodes — the times you stop breathing during sleep — to reduce major health risks often associated with sleep apnea and to improve your quality of life.
An oral appliance fits much like a custom mouthguard, snugly attaching to the teeth. Most patients find it to be relatively comfortable and you can speak and consume fluids with the appliance in place and traveling is also easy, improving overall compliance among users.
Dr. Spink has a variety of appliances to choose from based on your treatment needs, goals and budget. These include the DNA Appliance System, the Moses Appliance, the Somnodent Appliance and the TAP Appliance.
Dr. Spink’s caring staff in our Birmingham, AL office want to help you get better sleep. Call (205) 235-5043 or schedule an appointment online today.