banner image with text diagnosis sleep apnea

The pros and cons of sleep apnea dental devices

Do you snore loudly? Do you feel exhausted no matter how much sleep you get at night? If you’ve received a diagnosis of sleep apnea from your Red Deer doctor, there are several devices that will help you live with this condition. They vary in comfort and ease of use, so we’ve prepared a guide to help you figure out what’s what.

But first, what is sleep apnea?

Sometimes people go straight to their Red Deer dental clinics and ask for a snoring or sleep apnea device without an official diagnosis. However, it is very important to know what is causing your sleep-related breathing disorder and how serious it is so that we can determine the best treatment for you. We can help you narrow down the causes with a complimentary screening test, and based on the results recommend an overnight sleep study so we can target the real issue. A sleep physician makes the diagnosis.

Most sufferers have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by a physical obstruction to the airway. The muscles in the throat relax during sleep and, along with soft fatty tissue, can cause snoring, insufficient airflow, or complete blockage. When there is poor or no air exchange, the oxygen level in the blood drops, and this essential oxygen is not delivered to the tissues and organs of our body to allow for their repair and function. In an attempt to start breathing again, the body wakes up sufferers constantly throughout the night and leaves them severely sleep deprived.

The effects of sleep apnea on the body include: excessive daytime sleepiness which can affect cognitive function, work performance, and personal safety; morning headaches; acid reflux; high blood pressure; and damage to our vital organs. There is an increased chance of diabetes, strokes, and heart attacks. Over time, the cumulative oxygen starvation takes its toll on the body and can shorten our life span by 12 – 15 years!

CPAP and dental devices that help you live with sleep apnea

Continuous positive airway pressure devices (CPAPs).

Patients wear a mouth and nose mask for sleep; it is connected by hose to a device that provides a steady flow of air that keeps the airway open at all times.

  • Pros: “The gold standard” of treatment; effective in ensuring continuous airflow
  • Cons: dry, itchy nose; sleep positions are limited due to air hose; uncomfortable; difficult to travel with

Mandibular advancement devices (MADs).

Custom-made MADs are worn over the teeth and are similar to sports mouth guards or retainers. They maintain the jaw and tongue in a slightly forward position in order to keep the soft tissue in the mouth from relaxing back into the throat.

  • Pros: more comfortable than CPAP; can sleep in any position; easy to travel with; no dry, itchy nose
  • Cons: can cause excess salivation, jaw stiffness or tension in some people

Tongue retaining mouthpieces (TRMs).

This kind of appliance fits like a MAD but holds the tongue forward with suction to prevent it from relaxing back into the throat. This device is intended for people whose jaws aren’t able to be positioned for sleep with a MAD.

  • Pros and cons: same as those of MADs

Contact us

Call our Red Deer dental clinic at 403-345-0077 or request an appointment online to learn more about how we can help you—and your spouse—achieve a healthy, restful sleep.