Oral Devices / Snoring & Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Moderate to loud snoring impacts quality of life and health, even in the absence of obstructive sleep apnea.
Oral appliances can be very effective when designed by orthodontists and dentists to meet the specific needs of the individual patient. I have worn the EMA for over 15 years and it has completely eliminated snoring.

- Larry Majznerski DDS MSD


Oral sleep appliances are classified as Durable Medical Devices. These are tooth-borne appliances which holds the lower jaw and tongue forward during sleep.

Oral appliance therapy is the most effective for snoring and recommended for OSA patients who cannot tolerate a CPAP 1.

Some things you should know about snoring...

...it's more than a nuisance.

Moderate to Loud Snoring more than 3 to 4 times per week has serious health risks including, but not limited to:

- 40% greater chance of hypertension
- 34% greater chance of developing a heart attack
- 67% greater chance of developing a stroke

The two most common and effective devices to managing snoring and OSA are the use of a CPAP and oral sleep appliances.

Habitual Snoring (HS)

Habitual Snoring is defined as the presence of loud snoring at least 3 nights per week, and is strongly associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Even in the absence of OSA, habitual snoring is associated with health and social consequences including sleep fragmentation, family discord, excessive daytime sleepiness, an more seriously, the development of systematic hypertension in individuals aged <50 years. 

However, many individuals regard habitual snoring as a benign and common behavior.  It is possible that for some of the same reasons, physicians often do not emphasize that the specific symptom of snoring is treatable and a frequent sign of OSA. 

Loud snorers have a 40% greater chance of developing hypertension, 34% greater chance of developing heart attacks, and 67% greater chance of developing stroke, compared to non-snorers after adjustments for age, gender, body mass index, diabetes, level of education, smoking, and alcohol consumption.  

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of apnea.  An OSA episode occurs when the tongue relaxes and narrows or even closes off the airway during sleep, causing a pause in breathing.  

When the brain detects a lack of oxygen in the blood, it sends your body a signal to wake up enough to breathe.  This is usually witnessed as a gasp or a snort. 

OSA episodes are often part of a cycle that can occur hundreds of times a night, and can last from several seconds to longer than a minute.  

 

Sleep Study

A sleep study is the most accurate test for diagnosing sleep apnea.  It records what happens with your breathing while you sleep.  You can have your sleep study at a time when it is convenient to you, and in the comfort of your own home.

Oral Appliance Therapy

Worn while sleeping, an oral appliance holds the lower jaw (the mandible) forward to keep the tongue from falling back and obstructing the airway.  The official term for these kinds of oral appliances is mandibular advancement devices.  

Oral appliances are indicated for patients with mild to moderate OSA who: 

  • prefer oral appliances over CPAP
  • Cannot tolerate CPAP
  • Are unable to use surgery or lifestyle changes to control their apnea

Questions about Sleep Apnea

Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotence, and headaches.  Moreover, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes.  Fortunately, sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated.  

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep.  Sleep apnea can be life-threatening and you should consult your doctor immediately if you feel you may suffer from it.  More than 18 million American adults have sleep apnea.  

There is evidence that long-term sleep-disordered breathing can have important health consequences.  It may increase the incidence of high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, and heart problems.  In short, untreated sleep apnea can kill you.  

It is well known in medical circles that an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with the vast majority of cases still undiagnosed.  Some statistics on sleep apnea mortality estimate that at least 38,000 people die annually from heart disease directly complicated by sleep apnea (study on June 21, 2017).

Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which the patient repeatedly stops breathing while asleep due to obstruction of the airway opening.  This condition rarely resolves on its own.  Most patients will need some intervention to control their symptoms and protect their health.