Have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder caused by an obstructed airway due to the tongue and soft tissues falling into the back of the throat during sleep. This results in short episodes when breathing is stopped. Obstructive sleep apnea leads to excessive daytime sleepiness and has been associated with increased risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart problems, and death.
Although continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most effective treatment available for obstructive sleep apnea, new guidelines recommend the use of oral appliances for the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea in people who don’t respond to CPAP or have difficulty sticking with the treatment.
CPAP involves wearing a mask attached to a machine that delivers air with increased pressure while you sleep. But researchers say many people find this treatment uncomfortable or intolerable, and an oral device may be an attractive treatment option.
“OSA is a serious, life-threatening condition -- but for many patients, alleviating its effects can be as easy as utilizing an oral appliance at night,” says Kent Moore, MD, DDS, president of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, in a news release. Oral appliances may control mild to moderate OSA with minimal discomfort or disruption.
A Nightguard, also known as an occlusal (biting surface) guard, is a removable acrylic (plastic) appliance that fits over the upper and lower teeth used to minimize and relieve the effects of grinding the teeth (bruxism) or joint problems (TMJ) during sleep. People who wake up with sore muscles, facial weakness, or a jaw that is 'locked' are good candidates for this device.