Snoring is the sound of partially obstructed breathing during sleep. While snoring can be harmless, it can also be the sign of a more serious medical condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). When OSA occurs, the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat and completely block the airway, restricting the flow of oxygen. The condition known as Upper Airway Resistance Sysndrome (UARS) is midway between primary snoring and true obstructive sleep apnea. People with UARS suffer many of the symptoms of OSA, but require special sleep testing techniques.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliances that treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are small devices worn in the mouth, similar to orthodontic retainers or sports mouth guards. This type of therapy involves the selection, fitting, and use of a specially designed oral appliance worn during sleep that maintains an opened unobstructed airway in the throat.
Here is how the appliance works:
- the appliance repositions the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula
- the appliance stabilizes the lower jaw and tongue
- the muscle tone of the tongue is increased
Dentists with training in oral appliance therapy are familiar with the various designs of appliances and can determine the one best suited to the individual. The initial evaluation phase can take several weeks to several months to complete.
The advantages of oral appliance therapy:
- oral appliances are comfortable and easy to wear
- the appliances are small and convenient making them easy to carry when travelling
- treatment with oral appliances is reversible and non-invasive