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Can Jaw Support Help with Your Sleep Apnea?

Posted on 6/10/2016 by Jeffery Gerhardt
A dentist holding a sleeping mouth guard.There are millions of people in the U.S. with sleep apnea, and for many of them, the only way that they can get a safe and restful night's sleep is to wear a sleep mask.

These masks are connected to a CPAP machine, which splints the airway open so that the upper airway isn't allowed to collapse at night. While this is an effective and safe method for managing the condition, some patients simply aren't able to tolerate wearing a mask all night.

Obstructive sleep apnea results when the muscles located in the back of the throat begin to relax, closing or narrowing the airway as you breathe in. The result is that you can't get an adequate breath in.

There are a variety of symptoms that might indicate someone has sleep apnea. These include loud snoring, periods of breathing cessation, abruptly awakening, and dry mouth upon awakening.

If that sounds like you, your dentist may recommend a jaw support system called a mandibular advancement device, or MAD. The MAD opens up the airway by pushing the lower jaw bone outward to make it less likely that your upper airway will collapse while you are asleep, and a recent study has examined its effects.

The study was completed by a team of researchers at the University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland, and data from dozens of studies involving close to 7,000 patients were examined. It was found that CPAP did have a greater reduction in daytime fatigue than MAD with sleep apnea patients.

However, MAD was shown to be a viable option if CPAP was not available or was poorly tolerated. Both options are effective enough that the device used to treat the problem could also be left up to the individual patient's preference in the future.

Are you concerned that you might have sleep apnea? Contact our office today.

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