Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical disorder that causes low oxygen levels and considerable strain on the sufferer’s cardiovascular system which is why when left untreated, it increases the person’s risk for heart attack or stroke. During sleep apnea, the person’s tongue is sucked against the back of the throat, obstructing airflow through the upper airway. Although sound asleep and usually unaware, the person suffering from sleep apnea stops breathing until oxygen levels in the brain become so low, the person instinctively partially awakens, the obstruction is removed, and airflow resumes, often with a loud gasp. Obstructive sleep apnea affects 4% of men and 2% of women. Under 0.5% of the population building is affected by a more rare form of sleep apnea called central sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a trained professional and this is most often done in a sleep clinic. Sleep apnea is most commonly treated with a very effective method called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP. The person’s airway is kept open while they are sleeping with a machine which blows forced air via a mask which fits over nose. CPAP stops snoring and does prevent sleep apnea, but the machine makes a lot of noise to which many people have difficulty growing accustomed to. Many people find the mask very uncomfortable to wear as well.
There is some good news for sleep apnea sufferers who would prefer not to have to wear such a device while they sleep. Medical professionals have recently discovered that sleep apnea can be well managed with the use of oral appliances such as snore guards. These are similar to retainers or athletic mouthguards, and are worn in the mouth during sleep. These appliances help maintain an unobstructed airway in throat. They may be used alone or in conjunction with other sleep apnea treatments such as lifestyle changes, surgery or CPAP.
The oral appliances function in several ways. They increase muscle tone in tongue, reposition lower jaw, soft palate as well as uvula and stabilize lower jaw as well as tongue. Your dentist will help you to determine which oral appliance will work best for you based on both your medical and dental conditions. In order to make this an effective treatment that you will stick with, your dentist will want you to visit on some sort of schedule to check the response of your mouth and teeth to the particular device you are using. Your dentist will also make sure the device continues to help you manage your snoring and that it is not contributing to making your problem worse.
If you have been prescribed to use the snore guard, you are advised to read snore guard reviews beforehand as there are many brands available on the market.