Breathe Easy: Sleep Apnea and Oral Appliance Therapy

Breathe Easy: Sleep Apnea and Oral Appliance Therapy

Slepa Apnea and Oral Devices


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which your airway becomes narrowed or obstructed while you sleep causing you to briefly breathing or take very shallow breaths. Typically you begin breathing again with a loud gasp or snort. OSA is a chronic condition that disrupts your restorative deep sleep repeatedly throughout the night, leaving you feeling tired the next day. Over time, OSA can lead to more serious health issues including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Increased risk of diabetes

For many years, the only treatments for OSA were surgery to open or enlarge the airway, or nightly use of a machine to maintain continuous positive airway pressure (commonly known as CPAP). Today, however, many cases of OSA can be improved or eliminated entirely with the use of an oral appliance.

How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

Often those with sleep apnea first learn of it from their partner. That person may observe you snoring, or gasping for breath as you sleep. You may notice yourself frequently waking with a headache, or feeling tired and lethargic during the day. High blood pressure is another common symptom, as your body uses a spike in pressure as one of the ways to cause your breathing to resume and over time, elevated blood pressure can become the norm.

What is an oral appliance?

An oral appliance is a custom-made mouthpiece—like an athletic mouth guard or orthodontic retainer—that is worn at night. It helps keep your jaw in a forward position, as a backward shift in deep sleep is often what closes off the airway. People who begin breathing without interruption all night sleep better, feel more rested, and tend to report the treatment as “life-changing.”

Oral appliance therapy provides many benefits over other treatments like CPAP, including that an appliance is:

  • Comfortable
  • Silent
  • Portable and convenient for travel
  • Easy to care for

How do I get started with oral appliance therapy?

If your doctor feels oral appliance therapy is a good treatment for you, he or she can write a prescription for you to get an oral appliance from a qualified dental practice (like Elevate). Your dentist will then conduct a full examination of your teeth, tongue, jaw, and airway to determine if an FDA-approved appliance will best meet your specific needs and fit comfortably in your mouth. Molds of your upper and lower teeth, as well as a record of how your teeth come together is needed to create a custom-designed appliance. Many medical insurance plans cover the cost of oral appliance therapy.

In most cases, a sleep study is initially performed to help diagnose OSA, and often repeated to ensure that your new sleep appliance producing the desired effect. Going forward, your dentist may adjust your appliance to maximize its benefits.

A Holistic Approach to Dental Care

At Elevate, we have extensive experience in creating oral appliances that successfully treat sleep apnea. After talking with your doctor, visit or call 970-279-5647 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Steinbach or Dr. Van Gorden.

We proudly provide comprehensive biological dental care to patients of all ages. We are your Basalt dentist, Aspen dentist, Carbondale dentist, Glenwood Springs dentist, and surrounding Colorado areas.