While continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices can help a lot of people with sleep apnea, they don't work for everyone. Some people may still not feel rested or they may not be able to get comfortable and sleep deeply while wearing CPAP masks. If you are still fatigued from sleep apnea, consider visiting your dentist for help. There are oral appliances that can fix symptoms of sleep apnea.
What Appliances Could You Try?
There are two appliances you could try: a tongue stabilizing device or a mandibular advancement appliance.
Tongue Stabilizing Device (TSD)
This device is made from a small piece of plastic that sits against your lips. It can similar to a pacifier. The device has another piece of plastic that can suction to your tongue and hold it forward so that it doesn't collapse in the back of your throat. You could find over-the-counter TSDs, but these may not be as effective since it may be too small or too large for your mouth. A TSD made by your dentist is a good option since it will be customized to your mouth and bite size.
To be able to use a TSD, you should be able to stick your tongue between your teeth comfortably. A TSD may not be a good fit for people with overbites, since it can be hard to stick the tongue out far enough between teeth. If you have a tight frenulum (the connective tissue that holds your tongue), this may also not be a good fit for you since it will be too hard to stick out your tongue and get suction in the TSD.
TSDs can work great for some people who cannot get used to CPAP machines. If you aren't keen on this device, you could try a mandibular advancement appliance.
Mandibular Advancement Devices
These devices look like an upper and lower mouth guard put together. The "mandibular" jaw is your lower jaw, so the goal of these devices is to gently pull your lower jaw forward. It will be much harder for your airway to relax and "collapse" since the lower jaw will be pulled forward.
If you deal with bruxism as a side effect from your sleep apnea, then these devices can be a good fit since they prevent opposing teeth on each arch from contacting one another. Because everyone has a different range of motion with their mandibular jaws, these devices usually have adjustable controls so that you can change the degree of advancement of the lower jaw.
How are they made?
Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and then send the impressions to a dental laboratory. The technicians at the dental laboratory will create an appliance based on plaster models that they create out of your impression trays. Once you have your oral appliance, it's a good idea to schedule a follow-up visit with your dentist just to make sure the appliance is actually working as intended.
For more information about sleep apnea oral appliance therapy, reach out to a local dentist.