Sleep apnea is a whole-body problem because it negatively affects your sleep. And it’s not just a night here and there of poor sleep; it’s every single night. Sleep apnea affects an estimated 18 million Americans and is 80% untreated. Its most common form is called obstructive sleep apnea. It’s when a blockage in the airway leads to decreased oxygen levels throughout the night, eventually lowering overall blood oxygen levels.
The blockage causing poor sleep usually involves upper airway muscles, like your tongue, relaxing during sleep to the point where little to no oxygen can pass through. Many circumstances can cause obstructive sleep apnea, and based on the underlying issues, patients can be prescribed different types of oral appliance treatments.
Oral Appliance Therapy and DNA Appliance Therapy are both used to treat dental and sleep-related issues, but they are different in terms of their design, function, and application.
What is Oral Appliance Therapy?
Oral appliance therapy is an orthotic that fits over your teeth and is worn whenever you sleep. The appliance works to reposition your jaw forward to make more room in your airway. This way, when your tongue relaxes during sleep, it won’t impede oxygen intake. You’ll be able to sleep soundly all night long and wake up feeling refreshed. You’ll notice a difference in your sleep on the first night you wear your oral appliance. After a few nights of uninterrupted sleep, you’ll see a reduction in your sleep apnea symptoms.
Many people prefer oral appliance therapy to CPAP because it doesn’t change their sleeping habits or cause issues for their sleeping partner or when traveling. The appliance is comfortable and requires nothing to work except an experienced San Jose sleep dentist who can craft a custom fit. At Top Down Dental, we recommend oral appliance therapy to anyone who:
- Has mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
- Can’t tolerate a CPAP.
- Needs a supplemental treatment to CPAP when travel doesn’t allow for electricity or distilled water.
- Wants to see immediate results.
- Has underlying causes that aren’t related to orthodontic airway issues.
- Wants to see a reduction in snoring regardless of a sleep apnea diagnosis.
What is DNA Appliance Therapy?
A DNA appliance is a type of oral appliance therapy, but it works differently than the therapy we talked about above. The DNA appliance works to guide jaw growth and movement in children and adults who are experiencing sleep apnea due to a narrow airway caused by malocclusion (a bad bite). It is designed to promote the growth and development of the jaw and airway by utilizing the body’s natural mechanisms of bone remodeling and gene expression. The DNA appliance comprises a series of removable oral devices that a San Jose sleep dentist custom-fits to a patient’s teeth and can be adjusted as the treatment progresses.
Just as with oral appliance therapy, you’ll notice your sleep gets better as treatment progresses. However, it’ll take longer because your jaw needs time to grow and remodel. While the DNA appliance is a longer treatment, usually taking months to years to complete, it’s a permanent solution to sleep apnea.
The DNA appliance has other benefits too. Since the appliance permanently repositions your jaw, you’ll notice a change in your appearance, smile, and profile, which is often desired when you have an orthodontic issue causing your sleep apnea.
Our San Jose sleep dentist recommends DNA appliance therapy to anyone who:
- Is experiencing sleep apnea due to an orthodontic issue.
- Needs a malocclusion correction.
- Wants long-term results.
- Is unhappy with their facial appearance.
- Wants to improve their smile along with sleep quality.
- Wants to resolve snoring.
- Can’t breathe through their nose well.
- Experiences TMJ issues.
Sleep Apnea-TMJ Connection
Sleep apnea and TMJ disorder can go hand in hand. A poorly positioned jaw can narrow your airway and cause pain in your temporomandibular joint—the joints that connect your jaw to your skull. This can cause you to grind your teeth, resulting in further misalignment. In cases of a poorly fitted oral appliance, your sleep treatment could cause TMJ issues.
This is where the DNA appliance can come in. Your DNA appliance can work to reposition your jaw to be the best for sleep and to reduce TMJ pain. And the best part is that it’s a permanent solution to both issues.
Which Treatment is Right for You?
To decide which treatment is right for you, consult your San Jose sleep dentist, Dr. Nancy Nehawandian. She can determine the underlying cause of your sleep apnea and recommend the treatment that’ll help you sleep better and avoid health issues down the road.
Get Sleep Apnea Treatment in San Jose
Whether you need oral appliance therapy or DNA appliance therapy, Dr. Nancy Nehawandian can help. Make an appointment online or call (408) 354-5600. Our entire staff is focused on your overall health and wellness, making Topdown Dental the best choice for anyone who wants to promote harmony throughout their body and solve sleep apnea issues.