Sleep apnea is a serious, sometimes fatal medical disorder that affects around 10% of American men over the age of 40, and 6% of American women of the same age. Sleep apnea sufferers completely stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night. Normal breathing ceases because the airway becomes obstructed, causing a serious reduction of airflow to the lungs.
There are a number of dental devices that can be used to alleviate this condition. The goal of most of these devices is to separate the jaws and push them forward slightly. This slight repositioning opens up the airway, and allows oxygen to flow freely again. Wearers of sleep apnea dental devices report that they stop loud snoring, feel more rested in the daytime, and are much more comfortable going to sleep. Sleep apnea appliances work best on patients who are not significantly overweight. They offer a viable alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
Sleep apnea appliances fall into two categories: fixed and adjustable. Here are brief descriptions of some commonly used sleep apnea dental appliances:
TAP® 3 (Thornton Adjustable Positioner)
The TAP® 3 is the smallest, most comfortable member of the TAP family. It is a two-part custom-created sleep apnea appliance that fits over the teeth in much the same way as a sports mouthguard. The TAP® 3 projects the jaw forward to prevent the tongue and soft tissues from impeding the airway. The lower jaw positioner is adjustable, which means that it can be altered to suit the comfort level of the wearer. The TAP® 3 appliance can accommodate the three main types of malocclusion, and allows the lips to fully close.
The OASYS appliance is designed to move the base of the tongue toward the front of the mouth by gently repositioning the jawbone (mandible). This shift opens the oropharynx and strengthens the upper airway. An extension of the upper shield projects toward the nose, creating a larger nasal opening and less resistance to normal airflow. This adjustable appliance is comfortable to wear and extremely patient friendly.
The KlearwayTM Appliance is generally used to alleviate obstructive sleep disorder and eliminate snoring. The patient or dentist can project the jaw forwards in increments of .25mm at a time. This ensures maximum comfort for the sleeper. The KlearwayTM appliance is made from VariflexTM heat softening acrylic, which makes it easier to insert. Running warm water over the appliance makes it pliable, but once placed in the desired position, the acrylic hardens again.
Herbst Telescopic Appliance
The Herbst appliance is held in the mouth by clasps and friction grips. It is made of acrylic, and contains adjustable metal wiring. The advantage of this appliance is that the wearer is able to move vertically and laterally without dislodging the appliance. The Herbst appliance is usually used in mild and moderate cases of sleep apnea, and can also alleviate loud snoring effectively.
Vivos DNA Appliance
A safe and non-surgical treatment is now available to correct the structure of the airway using a DNA Appliance (Daytime Nighttime Appliance). https://www.vivoslife.com/
As a Certified Provider of the DNA Appliance ® (Daytime Nighttime Appliance) system, Dr. Fagundes can treat the teeth, jaws, temporomandibular joints (TMJ), face and airway for optimal growth and development by engaging the patient’s underlying genetics without the use of surgery. Using the principles of Epigenetic Orthodontics, this technique activates one’s naturally occurring genes to correct underdevelopment in the craniofacial region with removable appliances worn during the evening and nighttime – during the body’s natural circadian rhythm. The bones in the craniofacial region are remodeled over time, non-surgically making a foundational correction to the structure of the airway. It is a pain-free, minimally invasive process which uses no drugs, medication, or injections.
- Straightening and aesthetically developing the healthy alignment of the teeth and dental arches
- Treating TMJ disorders
- Non-surgically treating the airway space
- Reducing and eliminating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea
How does the DNA Appliance work?
The DNA Appliance gently expands the upper arch space in three dimensions, which in turn increases the size of the nasal cavity. As the upper arch is widened, the lower jaw is able to move forward into a more natural position. As the jaw moves forward, it pulls the tongue and soft tissues, thus increasing the size of the airway. The result is a dramatic improvement in the patient’s ability to breathe.
The CT imaging shown above compares the width of the airway (in red) “Before” treatment with the DNA Appliance and “After”, clinically documenting the expansion in the airway in an adult patient.
This unique appliance, based upon a patented design, is worn like a dental or orthodontic retainer; however, it is worn only in the evening/night and gently guides the teeth, jaws, facial bones and airway into more optimal spatial positioning aiding sleep and breathing patterns. In contrast to other appliances that rely on continuous force only – which damages sensitive tissue – the DNA appliance applies intermittent force, providing a resting period for the tissues between nightly use.
Additional Benefits for Patients
The DNA Appliance system is unique because it was not only developed to lessen sleep apnea, but it also straightens teeth, develops the upper and lower arch, and improves the upper airway. By improving the upper airway through an increase in facial volume, a cosmetic benefit of facial feature balancing occurs. This can give a lifting result similar to that found with an injectable or filler such as Juvederm or Radiesse, but is a natural and permanent solution. Some patients have even reported this is much like a “non-surgical facelift”.
With the use of DNA Appliances, our body has the ability to self correct—to enhance the teeth, jaws, TMJ, face, and airway into more optimal relations for functions, such as sleep and breathing. Dr. Julie Fagundes is a Certified Provider of the DNA Appliance system. Call to schedule an appointment today!
If you have questions or concerns about sleep apnea appliances, please ask us. 541-482-1991