Custom Mouthguards: Not Just for Sport!
For several years now, the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (or CPAP mask) has been the “go to therapy” among sufferers of sleep apnea. While this device has proven itself as an extremely effective method of treatment, many people who suffer simply cannot tolerate the awkward and sometimes uncomfortable facial apparatus and may require an alternative type of treatment. Therefore, to accommodate patients with this issue, the dental community has developed a less invasive alternative treatment; a custom mouthguard!
We know that when one hears the term custom mouthguard, typically the first thing that comes to mind is protecting your teeth during sports. However, although they may look relatively similar to a sports mouthguard, the Mandibular Advancement Device (or MAD as we call it) is a unique, nighttime mouthguard that fits directly over your upper and lower jaw. The purpose of the MAD is to pull forward and re-position your jaw into maintaining an unobstructed airway, hereby reducing snoring and drastically improving your breathing while you sleep.
While there are a growing number of patients who can attribute to the overall effectiveness of the MAD or custom mouthguard, perhaps few can attest to its prowess better than our own Genny Skrobanek!
As wife of Dr. Gary Skrobanek, Genny is certainly familiar with some of the recent innovations in dental technology, and how they can have a major impact on the lives of those whom they benefit. Previously Genny had shared with us, a personal experience in which she expressed how grateful she was her for husband’s oral appliance (or custom mouthguard), as Dr. Skrobanek himself was once a snorer! Genny also recalled her father’s snoring during her childhood, citing his ability to “wake up the whole house” with his persistently loud wheezing. Although, her father’s snoring issues have largely diminished since receiving his MAD appliance. While vacationing recently, Genny’s mother was awoken buy the sound of loud snoring, only to discover that instead of being able to blame her husband, the snoring was in fact hers! Because of this, Genny’s mother knows it’s time to be fitted for a MAD appliance of her own!
What is Sleep Apnea?
Despite being a somewhat new term amongst the general public, sleep apnea is relatively common sleep disorder that affects many people across the globe. Often characterized by noticeably loud and disruptive snoring, sleep apnea is a chronic disorder in which the sufferer will experience shallow or frequent pauses in breathing during an average night’s sleep. Although initially appearing as little more than a nuisance and perhaps an issue amongst sleeping partners, sleep apnea can be a potentially serious health concern that may increase the risk of developing additional issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, complications during pregnancy, and a slew of additional problems.
Related Article: Wake UP Gary!!!Go Put in Your Mouthguard!!
The Big Three: The Different Types of Sleep Apnea
Although the disorder is classified as sleep apnea in a general sense, there are in fact three different variations of sleep apnea, and each of which may affect the sufferer in specific ways.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea:
Obstructive sleep (or OSA) apnea is without doubt, the most common form of sleep apnea, as it affects approximately 3.6 million Americans today. However, despite such staggering statistics, it is believed that only 10% of those suffering from OSA recognize the symptoms and actively seek treatment for the condition, thereby leaving most suffers untreated.
Some of the signs and symptoms of OSA are:
- Noticeably loud snoring
- Dry mouth
- Excessive drowsiness or sleepiness throughout the day
- Repeated shortness of breath (abrupt awakenings) while asleep
Generally, the root cause of OSA, is attributed to relaxation of muscles while asleep, during which the tongue may cause a partial blockage of a person’s airway.
Central Sleep Apnea:
As opposed to being something of a mechanical problem like OSA, central sleep apnea (or CSA) is more of a muscle signal or miscommunication problem that originates within the brainstem. Although considerably less prevalent than OSA, CSA should not be taken lightly as it may likely be indicative of serious underlying health issues such as heart failure or Parkinson’s disease.
Common symptoms of CSA may include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Poor concentration
- Shortness of breath
- Repeated abrupt awaking
Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome:
The final and as its name implies, most severe and advanced form of sleep apnea is complex or mixed sleep apnea syndrome. Complex sleep apnea is a combination for both OSA and CSA, and typically presents symptoms of both. Often in the cases of complex sleep apnea, a sufferer should seek immediate treatment as the standard of living with this condition may deteriorate rapidly. (e.g. going for too long without the adequate amount of sleep).
Custom Mouthguard: Get MAD … but not literally
As human beings, we are an active, intelligent, and highly successful species, however when robbed of the necessary amount of sleep, our bodies’ natural ability to function is severely hindered. Simply put, you NEED your sleep, and with an ongoing issue like sleep apnea, getting a goodnight’s sleep can be almost impossible!
While the CPAP machine remains the most effective tool in treating the more advanced cases of sleep apnea, (such as complex sleep apnea) if the machine doesn’t work for you, then maybe is time to get MAD! By visiting us at GPS Dental, Dr. Skrobanek can fit you with your very own customized MAD appliance. This custom mouthguard will be both durable and comfortable to use and is usually covered by most insurance plans.
Related Article: Brooks City Base Dentist: GPS Spotlight on Dr. Gary Skrobanek
Everyone deserves a goodnight’s sleep, so if the MAD custom mouthguard sounds like the right solution for your sleep apnea, come see us … we can help you!
Dr. Gary P. Skrobanek and his experienced, friendly team at GPS Dental offer affordable family dentistry and gentle dental care in the San Antonio, TX area. Our Brooks City Base dentist office is conveniently located and offers early morning appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At GPS Dental, we provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to dental implants, sleep apnea, TMJ / TMD Treatment, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at (210) 633-3477 to make an appointment.