There is a possible new solution for sleep apnea, which is a condition that affects about 22 million Americans.
Sleep apnea is most commonly treated with a machine called, a CPAP.
Eyewitness News has discovered there's actually a dental appliance that some apnea sufferers can use instead.
“CPAP used to be always the first recommendation,” Dr. Hal Dym said. “But if you came to a sleep doctor today and you had very, very mild sleep apnea, they might recommend making you an appliance first; and that used to never happen.”
Dym is not just a dentist, but says he is very passionate when it comes to helping find relief for those who suffer from snoring and sleep apnea.
That relief could come in the form of a dental appliance, called a Mandibular Advancement Device.
“There's two pieces. One fits on your top teeth and the other one fits on your bottom teeth,” Dym said. “And they're adjustable.”
When you have sleep apnea, your soft tissue collapses and that includes your tongue, which sort of blocks your airway. That action makes it hard to breathe.
What the appliance does is opens up your airway by pulling your jaw forward, ever so slightly, which in turn, moves your tongue out of the way.
Since one in four sleep apnea patients suffer from teeth clenching or grinding at night, “This is particularly good for people, who are kind of heavy grinders of their teeth, because it's a little more durable and less likely to break,” Dym said.
Eyewitness News even found out that Fox Dental in Glastonbury is working on a new, top-secret design that could improve this appliance even more.
“It is fairly new in the field. Something being discovered and brought forth,” Brian Fox, who is the owner of Fox Dental Services, said. “So we're really on the cutting edge of it.”
Fox also suffers from sleep apnea, and has used a CPAP.
“You wake up during the night rolling and getting strangled in the hose,” Fox said. “Most likely I don't use it when I go back to bed.”
But, such as Dym, he's trying to spread more awareness about the other options sleep apnea patients actually have.
“Once you commit and do it, boy it is night and day,” Fox said.
Keep in mind, the appliance therapy is only used on those whose sleep apnea is categorized as “mild” or “moderate.”
“They can't have gum disease. They can't have jaw joint problems,” Dym said. “Their TMJ has to be healthy.”
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