How Can an Oral Appliance Help my Sleep Apnea?
Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea are both caused by the airway collapsing during sleep. A partial collapse results in Snoring, and a total collapse results in Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) has been the “Gold Standard” in treating OSA for many years. CPAP works by blowing up the airway like a balloon. Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) increases the size of the airway by changing the position of the lower jaw: usually opening the bite and moving the lower jaw forward.
The bottom row of the image below shows pictures of an individual’s airway and the amazing difference in airway size due simply to changes in head and jaw position.
The Neutral Position shows the patient laying on his back with a normal airway.
The Mandibular Advancement position shows the effect an Oral Appliance has on increasing the volume of the airway.
The Neck Extension position is what we used to do for airway in CPR. It does increase the volume of the airway, but not as much as Mandibular advancement.
The Mouth Opening position is the scariest position of all. Opening the mouth actually decreases the airway volume, making breathing more difficult. The more the patient opens, the smaller the airway becomes. Think about it – every snorer, from the 3 Stooges on, has always been depicted with his mouth wide open when he was rattling the windows while snoring.
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