Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
Ellis Dental specializes in fitting patients with a custom fabricated oral appliance to manage sleep apnea.
The Sleep Apnea Oral Appliance
The appliance works by holding your mandible (lower jaw) in a precise open and forward position and by doing so all the soft tissues in your throat and neck are no longer able to collapse and cause the nighttime choking and suffocating episodes. The appliance we make will be custom made for your teeth and will fit much like a sports mouth guard. Oral appliances are a very comfortable and easy to use solution for managing sleep apnea and snoring and they are also an excellent alternative to CPAP therapy for patients who find it difficult to tolerate. In 2015 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued updated practice parameters recommending the use of custom fabricated oral appliances made by specially trained dentists for patients with snoring and sleep apnea who prefer the mouthpiece over CPAP or who have tried CPAP and are unable to continue daily use.
Am I A Candidate for An Oral Appliance?
Most people are great candidates for an oral appliance. The only way to tell for sure would be to request an appointment with Ellis Dental for a consultation at our office in St. Louis, MO. When you come in we may test your airway using our Eccovision Acoustic Diagnostic Imaging system and we may also send you home with a portable sleep apnea monitor. Once everything is reviewed, Dr. Ellis will discuss treatment options with you.
Oral Appliance Therapy is a Good Option for the Following:
- Patients with Primary Snoring
- Patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea or people with severe sleep apnea who are unable tolerate or reuse to try a CPAP machine
- Patients who cannot tolerate the high pressure of a CPAP machine
- Patients with healthy disease free teeth
- Patients who want to travel without having to bring a CPAP machine on the trip
Not All Oral Appliances Are the Same
At Ellis Dental we work with a few select oral appliances. These devices are manufactured to strict standards and are FDA cleared specifically to manage Sleep Apnea. Additionally, Ellis Dental uses state-of-the-art acoustic imaging technology to ensure your jaw is held in precisely the correct position with the appliance. “At home appliance kits” and other bulky non-custom devices may claim to help with snoring but are not nearly as comfortable or successful as the appliances we use.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
- Our appliances are easy to wear and comfortable to use
- Most appliances are covered by your medical insurance and Medicare
- Oral appliances are small, noiseless and barely noticeable when worn
- They are convenient and easy travel with
- Oral appliances do not bother bed partners
- An oral appliance can help reduce self-consciousness that many experience when wearing a CPAP machine
- Oral appliances are not permanent
The Traditional CPAP
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Air Pressure and it works by pumping room air through a hose into a nasal mask that is worn by the patient. CPAP is the traditional for the management of sleep apnea. Constant pressure in the airway pushes the collapsible tissues out of the way and maintains an open/stable airway.
While highly effective at managing sleep apnea CPAP has proven to be difficult to tolerate for many patients and a large majority of CPAP users are “non-compliant” within 6 months. Meaning, many patients abandon this treatment because of the discomfort and noise associated with the device. If you are having a hard time wearing your CPAP every night please contact Ellis Dental. There are other options to consider and it is important to treat your OSA as part of your overall health and wellbeing.
Surgery and Surgical Options
If your case is severe, there are select surgical options designed to reduce or remove excess tissue in the airway. Dr. Ellis will review and discuss these options with you if they are applicable to your case.