For select patients with mild sleep apnea or positional snoring, a dental or oral appliance may be considered. Dental appliances are similar to orthodontic retainers. They are worn in the mouth while sleeping to help expand the back of the throat. Some of the devices hold the lower jaw forward during sleep, while other appliances directly affect tongue position.
Dental Appliances do have their disadvantages. The most common problem is arthritis of the jaw joint or tempromandibular joint disease (TMJ). TMJ occurs because of the stress of the jaw joint from thrusting your jaw forward in an unnatural position. For some, the dental appliance may act as a retainer causing the teeth to shift over time. This complication can result in an over-bite or under-bite. Like any device such as CPAP machines, patients may have difficulty tolerating dental devices. Non-compliance is very common.
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