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The problem with sleep-disordered breathing issues is that the airway collapses when the person falls asleep at night. A problem that is compensated for when awake. A number of solutions have been tried over the years, with varied results. Have you considered Intraoral Appliances?

Before the treatments available today, the solution for patients suffering from sleep-disordered breathing and sleep apnea was to perform a tracheotomy. That meant cutting a hole in their neck and inserting a tube to allow them to breathe better, then corking the hole when the person needed to talk. Although a little drastic, the procedure is not life-threatening. In fact, it actually works quite well and is still one option available today.

Think that sounds like a last-ditch option for opening your airway so you can breathe? Well, how about the uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). Performed by ear, nose, throat (ENT) specialists, the UPPP is sometimes known as a “Roto-Rooter” procedure because it removes tissue in the soft palate at the back of the throat. The procedure can deliver some temporary improvement, but it causes a lot of inflammation, pain, and scarring, and ultimately has a low success rate.

Other surgical options for opening a person’s airway include removing part of the tongue to eliminate airway obstruction or releasing the tongue and then reattaching it. Also creating inflammation and postoperative pain.

Still, as undesirable as these surgeries may sound, some people would rather undergo them than wear a CPAP machine—the current nighttime solution for people with severe sleep apnea. CPAPs are those bedside units that deliver air to the sleeper through a hose and mask worn over the nose, or over the nose and mouth. Many people view CPAPs as an intrusion in their world of sleep. But I must mention a CPAP is still the gold standard and is highly successful if worn. Unfortunately there only a 30-40% rate of compliance.

Since proper breathing occurs through the nose, rather than through the mouth, the key to better sleep is to open the airway—from the nose all the way down the throat. If the nasal passages are the issue, then sometimes nasal strips, an organic nasal spray, a neti pot, or other nonpharmaceutical solution can help clean out bacteria or fungus that may be causing inflammation and obstruction. There are also sprays that can help tighten up the soft tissue at the back of the throat. Unfortunately, all of these solutions are quick fixes and don’t really address the underlying problem in the long-term. We also recommend nasal or sinus cones that can be placed in the nostrils during sleep or when exercising.

Some people also look to boil-and-bite night guards to solve the snoring and teeth grinding problems that often accompany sleep-disordered breathing, not realizing that the position these appliances place the jaws in can actually worsen the airway opening. It is always necessary to test for the efficiency of either an oral appliance or a CPAP.

Similarly, it’s dangerous to take supplements touted as sleep aids without first consulting a medical professional to determine your exact deficiencies. If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing with dosage and product quality when taking a supplement you read about online, then you risk turning a deficiency into an imbalance. Also, you should be aware the current studies associate early dementia and Alzheimers with prescription meds such as Ambien.

When you consider the various choices—a drastic surgical procedure; using a CPAP, which many people have trouble wearing on a nightly basis; temporarily opening the airway with nasal sprays or other medications; making the problem worse with a boil-and-bite night guard; or taking a chance self-medicating, then wearing an intraoral appliance starts to sound like a pretty good idea, doesn’t it?

Therapy using intraoral appliances created specifically for you by an oral physician can help reshape the jaw and open the airway, allowing for improved craniofacial structure and better breathing at night.

When it comes to correcting sleep-disordered breathing, the best fix is one that is easy to use, and that works for the long-term. That comes from a provider with the right qualifications and the answers you need to resolve your sleep-disordered breathing issues, and who will continue to monitor you for the long-term to help you get the desired results.