Oral appliance for Sleep Apnea Will Help You and Partner Sleep Better

img AD Ratings imgMay 3, 2019




Hiroshima University researchers conducted a study to find a way to treat sleep apnea and recommended a new oral appliance based on their findings.

Scientists measured the airways of participants using 3D imaging while they slept lying down flat. Their study established an effective treatment plan wherein the patient’s airways not only open but also enable the patient to sleep better. Moreover, the study confirmed the scope for further dental and medical field collaboration in sleep apnea treatment.

Obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that affects patients while they sleep causes the throat muscles to relax leading to a narrower airway which induces snorting, choking and/or gasping alongside disturbing the patient’s REM sleep cycle. These symptoms are noticeable to the cohabitants and partners of the patient way before the patient notices these disturbances themselves.

How Sleep Apnea Affects Health

Mild to moderate sleep apnea is frequently responsible for people experiencing daily fatigue and shortened attention spans because it incapacitates proper sleep cycles. It is also known to have dire consequences as some have died from severe sleep apnea.

Explaining its effect, Dr. Cynthia Concepción-Medina, a Research Assistant at the Department of Orthodontics, said, “Your eyes are closed but you’re not resting,” reported Science Daily. Associate Professor Hiroshi Ueda and Dr. Yu Matsumura at Hiroshima University Hospital also contributed to the study.

The New Sleep Apnea Machine

One of the many traditional treatments for sleep apnea is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. It is an oral appliance, which mainly consists of a mask worn by the patient so that air pressure is delivered throughout the night.

The researchers at Hiroshima University Hospital designed an oral appliance that focused on the jawbone to help patients with moderate to mild sleep apnea. This customizable new appliance enlarges the airways at the back of a patient’s mouth by bringing the jawbone forward. As jaw bones and the respective jaw movements are different for every patient, these appliances are custom-made for each patient. No dental adjustments are made to the jaw, teeth or face shape of the patient.

Dr. Ueda laid out a compelling reason for using this appliance. “This is like when you have to use glasses, you have to wear them every time you want to see properly so [patients] have to wear this appliance every time [they] want to sleep better,” reported Science Daily.

The team of researchers, led by Dr. Matsumura, reassessed the performance of the device by taking Multislice Computed Tomography (MSCT) X-rays of a group of people suffering from mild-to-moderate sleep apnea. The X-ray machine rotates around the subject and takes pictures, which are then analyzed and then combined to see a 3D object to generate precision scans.

Why the Japanese Study is Important

Unlike previous studies, this study, which was published in the Sleep Disorders Journal analyzed the changes in a patient’s airways while they were lying flat. Previously, patients weren’t made to sleep whereas with the new study 13 patients simulated a prerequisite sleeping position. The researchers also noted that the oral appliance helped at least half of the sleep apnea patients who reported easier breathing patterns and wider airways while they slept with the device on.

Dr. Ueda said that the new study deserved attention, “I think it’s unique research because we are dentists, but we can contribute to improve the [patient’s] sleep situation or breathing situation.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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