Oral Sleep Apnea Appliances − Olympia WA

Illustration showing the impacted location of obstructive sleep apnea

Dental Sleep Medicine

Dental sleep medicine is the management of sleep-related breathing disorders, including Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), with Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). OSA must be diagnosed by Sleep Physicians, but specially trained dentists such as Dr. Russell can provide treatment if you suffer from a sleep disorder.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), oral appliances are indicated for mild- to moderate- sufferers of OSA who prefer OAT to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy and severe sufferers who have tried CPAP and failed.

Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing while sleeping. This can occur hundreds of times a night and for long periods of time. Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease (stroke), memory problems, weight gain, impotency, heartburn, depression and headaches. Moreover, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes.

Snoring is often a sign of sleep apnea and even when not, can be a significant strain on relationships with bed partners as well as leading to awkward social situations.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway gets blocked, usually by the soft tissue of the throat.

Click here to read Dr. Russell’s article on Sleep Apnea on ThurstonTalk.com

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Oral Applicances

Oral appliances are used to reposition the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula, thus reducing or eliminating soft tissue blockage of the airway during sleep.  There are various types of oral appliances the can be fabricated by dental professionals, each with specific advantages and disadvantages based on the clinical situation. Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other treatments for sleep-related breathing disorders, such as weight management, surgery or CPAP. The most common appliance used in our office is the SUE (SUAD Ultra Elite), second generation:

The SUE second generation

New digital technology has made it possible for our dental laboratory to design a revolutionary, cutting-edge and the most technically advanced oral sleep appliance to date. The SUE 2G is the smallest, strongest, lightest, and most effective two-piece adjustable appliance Dr. Russell has come across in over 8 years of Dental Sleep Medicine practice. The SUE 2G has minimal acrylic and is ideal for patients seeking the most unrestrictive tongue space and exceptional freedom of movement. The laboratory provides a five year limited warranty.

Having used the TAP, Somnomed, and various other popular appliances, we have found the SUE to be significantly more durable and comfortable for patients. Its accuracy of fit also minimizes tooth movement and tooth soreness over time. Dr. Russell will occasionally use a Herbst or other style of appliance depending on the specific needs of each patient.

SUE Second Generation sleep apnea appliance

How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

Dr. Russell and/or your physician can discuss your specific risk factors for sleep apnea and can refer you to a board certified sleep physician for evaluation. Once a diagnosis has been obtained, treatment options can be discussed with the sleep physician and Dr. Russell.

Standards of Care for Oral Appliance Therapy

  • Patients with primary snoring or mild OSA who do not respond to, or are not appropriate candidates for treatment with behavioral measures such as weight loss or sleep-position change.
  • Patients with moderate to severe OSA should have an initial trial of nasal CPAP, due to greater effectiveness with the use of oral appliances.
  • Patients with moderate to severe OSA who are intolerant of or refuse treatment with nasal CPAP. Oral appliances are also indicated for patients who refuse treatment, or are not candidates for surgical intervention.

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy involves the selection, fitting and use of a specially designed oral appliance that maintains an open, unobstructed airway in the throat when worn during sleep. Custom-made oral appliances are proven to be more effective than over-the-counter devices, which are not recommended as a screening tool or as a therapeutic option.

Dr. Russell is familiar with the various designs of appliances and can help determine which is best suited for your specific needs. A board certified sleep medicine physician must first provide a diagnosis and recommend the most effective treatment approach. Dr. Russell may then provide treatment and follow-up.

The initial evaluation phase of oral appliance therapy can take several weeks or months to complete. This includes examination, evaluation to determine the most appropriate oral appliance, fitting, maximizing adaptation of the appliance, and the function.

Ongoing care, including short- and long-term follow-up is an essential step in the treatment of snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliance Therapy. Follow-up care serves to assess the treatment of your sleep disorder, the condition of your appliance, your physical response to your appliance, and to ensure that it is comfortable and effective.

Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy

  • Oral appliances are comfortable and easy to wear. Most people find that it only takes a couple of weeks to become acclimated to wearing the appliance.
  • Oral appliances are small and convenient making them easy to carry when traveling.
  • Treatment with oral appliances is reversible and non-invasive.

How Oral Appliances Work

  • Repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula
  • Stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue
  • Increasing the muscle tone of the tongue

Helpful Links

Russell and Bode Family Dentistry

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