Do Dental Devices for Sleep Apnea Work?

A woman laying on her back on a gray and white striped pillow with her hands over her face.

If you’re wondering about dental devices for sleep apnea, it’s likely that you or someone you know is afflicted with it. Perhaps the CPAP (constant positive air pressure) machine was causing more discomfort than it was alleviating. Maybe it was keeping their partner from sleeping. Alternatively, there may have been a different reason why the CPAP wasn’t working. There is always another choice. Let’s take a closer look at what sleep apnea is and how it can be a serious health concern to see if dental equipment might help with it.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can be deadly if left untreated. Many individuals, even those who previously suffered from sleep apnea, were unaware of the gravity of the situation until December 2016. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll realize that the answer isn’t so simple. Why then? On December 27th of that year, actress Carrie Fisher, widely recognized for her role as Princess Leia in the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi films, died from sleep apnea four days after suffering a heart attack. That was when people started to take the condition more seriously.

Maybe you’re one of them, and you’re wondering if sleep apnea might be the end of you. Sleep apnea alone can’t kill you, but it may contribute to congestive heart failure and asthma when other illnesses are present. The fact is that sleep apnea increases your risk of dying from a serious health problem.

What are Some of the Issues Sleep Apnea causes?

While not all sleep apnea sufferers have life-threatening ailments, the disease can produce a variety of problems, ranging from irritations to major quality-of-life disruptors. Many individuals believe that these symptoms are related to getting older and do not realize they have sleep apnea. Here are some of the clearest indications that you might have sleep apnea.

  • Waking up with a sore throat.
  • Experiencing broken sleep.
  • Waking up gasping for air.
  • Not feeling rested despite sleeping all night.
  • Trouble staying awake or concentrating during the day.

Sleep apnea increases your risk of stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health problems. If you think you have sleep apnea but aren’t sure, see a doctor to verify your suspicions.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by breathing disruptions during sleep and oxygen deprivation to the body. The most common reason for sleep apnea is an obstructed airway (90 percent of the time), or a neurochemical issue between the brain and muscles that are used in breathing. Let’s try to make the above statement more comprehendible.

When you fall into a deep sleep, your tongue and jaw relax, leaving the rest of your body’s muscles to keep breathing. Even with every muscle in the airway completely relaxed during this stage of slumber, most people’s airways are still open. However, for some individuals, when the airway muscles relax, the back of the throat gets obstructed, and they stop breathing. When you cease breathing, your brain compels you to wake up at times, you will be violently jolted awake, and at other times, you won’t fully awaken. In either case, sleep apnea disrupts your regular sleeping patterns and puts you at risk of additional health problems linked to insufficient sleep.

Is There a Safe and Effective Alternative to CPAP Machines?

Yes, there are several oral devices that are safe and effective in the same way as CPAP. They also avoid the problems inherent with CPAP machines, such as discomfort. The most popular oral device is the mouthpiece. The goal of the dental device is to keep the airway clear by opening up the mouth and restricting the tongue from sliding back into the throat. This gadget is designed like a sports mouth guard, but it contains custom springs and modifications that push the lower jaw and tongue forward. This design opens up the mouth and airway, allowing free breathing throughout the night.

How Effective are Dental Devices for Sleep Apnea?

Dental devices are used to treat sleep apnea because they assist in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Patients who use dental devices are more likely to be satisfied than those that wear CPAP machines. They work by keeping your airway open, which prevents it from closing and blocking the free flow of air when you breathe.

Oral appliances are found to be quite successful in keeping the airway open. While CPAP machines are somewhat more efficient than dental devices for sleep apnea, they provide significantly less comfort and support. Patients who have trouble with CPAP claim that it interferes with their sleep. Patients who can’t use CPAP on a regular basis would benefit more from a dental appliance to treat sleep apnea. If you’re comfortable with the sound of a CPAP and the hose connected to your nose, an oral device may make your PAP sessions even more beneficial.

What are Some of the Benefits of Using a Dental Device for Sleep Apnea?

  • Dental devices are significantly less expensive than CPAP machines.
  • Oral appliances are easier to use and are significantly less cumbersome than CPAPs.
  • Cleaning a dental device is considerably easier than cleaning a CPAP machine.
  • A CPAP Machine is more difficult to carry while traveling than a dental device for sleep apnea.
  • Dental devices may be used in circumstances where a CPAP machine cannot be connected, such as on camping trips or other situations.
  • Sleep apnea treatment using dental devices can be a great complement to CPAP machines.

If you or a loved one has sleep apnea and can’t use CPAP therapy, or if you want to improve your own CPAP treatment, contact Jeffrey W. Cross, D.D.S., F.A.G.D right away. Call now and a member of Dr. Cross’s staff will contact you to schedule an appointment to discuss a dental device for sleep apnea. When you arise, a dental device for sleep apnea may be the answer to feeling more refreshed and rested. Don’t endure another night of choking; Dr. Cross can assist.

Call Jeffrey W. Cross, D.D.S., F.A.G.D at (301) 662-0300 or fill out our free online contact form today to learn more about sleep apnea oral appliances.


Call us at (301) 662-0300

or make an appointment

Contact Us

Hours of Operation

Monday-Thursday: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Friday-Sunday: Closed