By Marianna Kovitch, DMD, FICOI
According to National Healthy Sleep Awareness project, obstructive sleep apnea affects 25 million adults in the U.S. including 26% of adults between 30-70 years old. Common warning signs include snoring, gasping, and silent breathing pauses during sleep.
During sleep, the muscles in your mouth and throat relax, which, for a variety of anatomical reasons, can cause the airway to collapse, blocking air flow to the lungs. The harder your body tries to breathe, the tighter the airway seals, until the brain partially wakes up and reorganizes the jaw, tongue, and throat to a position more conducive to normal breathing. This sleep/wake pattern may occur for hours throughout the night, preventing a good night’s sleep, which may cause a myriad of health problems. The most widely used treatment for sleep apnea involves using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to deliver constant and steady air pressure to the airway via a hose and mask worn over the nose. However, drawbacks and limitations of the CPAP machine have made way for more modern treatment alternatives, including oral appliance therapy. Atlanta Smiles & Wellness, a comprehensive dental practice in Atlanta, has helped hundreds of sleep apnea patients get a good night’s rest with oral appliance therapy.
What is an oral appliance, and how does it work?
An oral appliance is similar to the retainers you wear after getting your braces removed, but a bit larger and much more sophisticated. There are several different designs, but the most common type of oral appliance is a mandibular advancement device. Its function is to stabilize and slightly protrude the mandible (jaw) in order to maintain an open airway during sleep. Holding the mandible in a forward position prevents displacement of the tongue into the airway. Mandibular advancement devices are created using physical or digital impressions and models of a patient’s oral structures, and custom fabricated using state of the art high-quality materials. Latex-free and metal-free appliances are available for individuals with allergies.
What are the benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy?
No. 1: Portability. Oral appliances are small and discreet, and are very easy to move and travel with. They do not need batteries or electricity to operate.
A close second: Comfort. Mandibular advancement devices are actually comfortable to wear and sleep in, and noise is not a factor, making it more likely that you will use it, and experience sound and uninterrupted sleep.
What do you do if you suspect you have sleep apnea?
If you have sleep apnea, or suspect that you may have it, Atlanta Smiles & Wellness encourages you to speak to a board certified Sleep Physician. Speak to a member of our friendly team by calling (404) 262-7733 or emailing us today.
Dr. Marianna Kovitch is a qualified dentist in dental sleep medicine, a distinction awarded by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Dr. Kovitch completed her Doctorate of Dental Medicine from the Medical College of Georgia after earning her Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Chemistry and recognition in research publication in biochemistry from Georgia State University. Dr. Kovitch has been an active board member of the Academy of General Dentistry since 2013 and has been a contributor to the development of dentistry excellence in Georgia.
Marianna Kovitch, DMD, FICOI • Atlanta Smiles & Wellness • AtlantaSmiles.com • 404.262.7733