Sleep apnea is a serious, sometimes fatal medical disorder that affects around 10% of American men over the age of 40, and 6% of American women of the same age. Sufferers completely stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night. Normal breathing ceases because the airway becomes obstructed, causing a serious reduction of airflow to the lungs.
There are a number of dental devices that can be used to alleviate this condition. The goal of most of these devices is to separate the jaws and bring the lower jaw forward slightly. This slight repositioning opens up the airway, and allows oxygen to flow freely again. Wearers of sleep apnea dental devices report that their loud snoring decreases, feel more rested in the daytime, and are much more comfortable going to sleep. Sleep apnea appliances work best on patients who are not significantly overweight or have severe sleep apnea. These devices offer a viable alternative for patients who are unable to adapt to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
Sleep apnea appliances fall into two categories: fixed and adjustable. In our office we only prescribe adjustable devices. Below you will find the description of the device we prescribe.
TAP® 3 (Thornton Adjustable Positioner)
The TAP® 3 is the smallest, most comfortable member of the TAP family. It is a two-part custom-created sleep apnea appliance that fits over the teeth in much the same way as a sports mouthguard. The TAP® 3 projects the jaw forward to prevent the tongue and soft tissues from impeding the airway. The lower jaw positioner is adjustable, which means that it can be altered to suit the comfort level of the wearer. The TAP® 3 appliance can accommodate the three main types of malocclusion, and allows the lips to fully close.
In our office, we prescribe the TAP® 3 appliance for our patients. We have had positive feedback and tremendous success treating our patient's with this appliance. In fact, Dr. Thunberg himself has been treated for sleep apnea utilizing this device and is very happy with the results.
If a sleep apnea appliance is the recommended treatment for your condition, Dr. Kend and Dr. Thunberg will discuss the process and answer all of your questions.
If you would like to schedule a consultation appointment or discuss whether you are a candidate for a TAP® 3 appliance, please call our office at (310)373-8821