Straight Teeth Talk: Dental devices are being used with great success

By Mac Lee
Dec. 31, 2013 at 6:31 a.m.

In the last two articles, we discussed that snoring is not funny or an indication of a good night's sleep. Snoring can be an indication of oxygen depletion during sleep, which, over time, can cause serious problems, including death. Going without treatment is simply dangerous.

When I see people with signs and symptoms of apnea, they are very open in talking about sleep issues. When I start talking about a sleep study, I can feel the apprehension. Unfortunately, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is not a rule to go by with sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, etc.

The cold, hard facts are that the only way to properly diagnose, and therefore, know how to properly treat sleep apnea is with a formal sleep study. Sleep centers go out of their way to make it as pleasant as possible. It is my belief that the more support patients get from doctors, dentists, family etc., the better the testing experience will be.

It is also important for the reader to know that dental devices now offer options for treatment other than the continuous positive airway pressure. Dental devices are now being used with great success and are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The CPAP - love it or hate it

Continuous positive airway pressure device consists of masks or hoses that push air down the nose to open the throat during sleep. There are two, undeniable facts about the device: one is that it work and save lives. Two is that some people simply refuse to wear it.

People love the devices because, for the first time in years, they sleep through the night and wake up refreshed and are not sleepy all day. Continuous positive airway pressure intolerant people simply refuse to wear them for many different personal reasons.

Dental devices - are they enough?

A continuous positive airway pressure device holds the back of the throat open with continuous air down the nose. A dental device holds the jaw forward, which in turn pulls the base of the tongue forward, unclogging the throat.

Dental devices are for mild to moderate apnea. They consist of night-guard like appliances that fit on the upper and the lower teeth. They are very comfortable, easy to use and don't require any equipment, hoses, etc. They also have the dual purpose of protecting teeth from night time grinding, which most apneacs do.

Individual treatment

The only way for an individual to know which treatment is best for them is to first have a formal sleep study. Sleep physicians are the only professionals that can diagnose and suggest treatment from a sleep study.

They can recommend a continuous positive airway pressure or a dental device, but only a dentist can make a dental device. People are tired of being shuttled from one doctor or one specialist to another. The answer is for the doctor, dentist, patient and family to all work together.

Each person and each apnea case is different, and it is those differences that need to be appreciated by all. Since the dental devices have proven so effective, they just may be the answer for those who are CPAP intolerant.

Start of a new year

We all want to be healthy, energetic, feel good, etc., especially at the start of any new year. Make a list of the health issues that are important to you and find the professional to help you or your family. Remember that it is your health, your money, your emotion and that health professionals are working for you.

Dr. Mac Lee practices in Edna. He is a international speaker to dentists and is an adviser to Dr. Mehmet Oz. To learn more, visit or call 361-782-7191.



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