Oral appliance therapy is one of the non-invasive ways to treat mild to moderate cases of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the sleep disorder characterized by loud snoring. Usually, Continuous Positive Airway Therapy (CPAP) is used to treat severe cases of OSA. However, not everybody can tolerate CPAP or may not be comfortable putting on CPAP masks and/or listening to machine sounds. Besides, when its mask leaks air, it leaves the patient with a dry mouth, so some apnea patients tend to quit the therapy due to that too.
Oral appliances, although used to treat mild to moderate apnea, can also be used in combination with CPAP in order to treat severe cases of the sleep disorder. Commonly, such kind of medical approach is called a combination therapy.
Oral appliances in the market may resemble anti-snore devices, but it is important to keep in mind that oral appliance therapy differs to snore guard therapy when it comes to treating sleep-disordered breathing conditions like snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome, and OSA.
Both a snore guard and a dental appliance work on a similar principle though, that is, to advance the mandible or lower jaw to create more breathing space in the airway. This is what brings a better flow of air during sleep. Another type of oral appliance retains people’s tongue via a suction device worn at the mouth’s front, but it is rarely prescribed.
A snore guard is usually used to treat the breathing disorders in sleep such as snoring. Note that not all anti-snore guards in the market are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but some are. In fact, the FDA-approved ones can be very effective when it comes to alleviating snoring and putting an end to its side effects.
A dentist, who is trained in sleep medicine, will have access to the best snore guards. They use it as a therapeutic approach to treat snoring. Similarly, when discussing an oral appliance’s use with a sleep specialist, you can be sure that they will prescribe FDA-approved stop snoring devices. As for those over-the-counter oral appliances that do not come with the federal agency’s approval, they get withdrawn from the market sooner or later. This is because such dental devices fail to provide the proper therapy that sleep apnea patients need.
Both snore guards and oral appliances are usually made up of sturdy and hygienic raw materials, which are safe for use in people’s oral cavity. Since snorers and apnea patients tend to grind their teeth and clench jaws, an anti-snoring device is subject to wear and tear. Therefore, it is important to invest in durable devices.
A snore guard is typically easier to make, with fewer moving components. Some devices are prefabricated ones and may not provide a custom-fit. If a device is clinically approved and is customizable, it is relatively safe to use it to treat snoring. Still, it may not be built durable enough to maintain greater jaw advancement, which can be required to treat apnea.
An oral appliance is usually more durable than an anti-snore guard is. It is typically built to advance one’s jawbone with a hinge mechanism, offering support. It often uses a mechanism to titrate or adjust the jaw advancement level to make sure the ideal fit for the user and effective treatment. Such kinds of mechanism can be an adjusting key or a latex band to hold the appliance in place. This adjustability makes it possible to even test an oral appliance’s effectiveness in a sleep center’s laboratory or a controlled environment to prove the respective therapy is working.
Snore guards do not necessitate several moving parts, so they are not as complicated to make as oral appliances. A close observation in a sleep center by dentists with sleep medicine expertise or sleep specialists may be required if you are using an oral appliance, but not so if you are using the over-the-counter device to treat apnea. Due to that, it is more affordable to buy the anti-snore guard as opposed to a dental or tongue retaining appliance prescribed to treat it.
Nowadays, insurance companies are realizing the advantages of an oral appliance to curb the sleep disorder, irrespective of its severity. They wisely offer medical plans with reimbursements in order to cover oral appliances as a first-line approach to treat sleep apnea. So such insurance plans will often cover frequent medical visits to fit a device, maintain it, and test it for therapeutic effectiveness.
Positive results for treatments are now the most important aspect for doctors, patients, and insurance payers. Treating apnea in a patient-centered environment is also no different. In case an apnea patient cannot keep on with the commonly prescribed Continuous Positive Airway Therapy, the oral appliance therapy option could be the one to treat the condition. Yet again, it is important to ensure patients work with medical professionals to get the right diagnosis and FDA-approved devices for their particular health concerns.