It seems that there are a host of sleep apnea appliances available from a variety of sources, all claiming to treat the sleep disorder. But they aren’t all the same. In this report Dr. Roy V. Hakala with Minnesota Craniofacial Center in St. Paul, MN explains that there are important differences in these appliances.
Dr. Hakala says that there are many different patents for oral appliances to treat sleep apnea. All of them are intended to accomplish the same result, but they are all different. The idea of any appliance is to support the jaw and to keep the tongue from falling into the throat at night. How these appliances accomplish that varies from appliance to appliance.
There are several features that a patient should be looking for. Dr. Hakala says that an appliance must be thin enough that a patient can wear the appliance overnight. An appliance must provide plenty of tongue space. And, most important, it must keep the jaw in the proper position all night and do so dependably and comfortably.
One appliance that will fit all these criteria is the EMA, demonstrated by Dr. Hakala and made by Glidewell Laboratories. The differences in the appliances is often the mechanism used to keep the lower jaw forward. Dr. Hakala points out that the EMA is a thin appliance, even thinner than many orthodontic appliances. The thinness of it provides plenty of tongue space. The EMA also provides small platforms in the back of the appliance to permit a dentist to adjust it to the desired height. The platforms make the tongue taller, providing more room for the tongue to stay in the mouth. The EMA uses elastic straps to allow a range of adjustments by a dentist.
Dr. Roy V. Hakala graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in 1975 and has been working in the field of TMJ disorders and obstructive sleep apnea ever since. He established the Minnesota Craniofacial Center, P.C., specifically for the treatment of these disorders in 1994. Dr. Hakala is, among other things, a Diplomate of the American Board of Craniofacial Pain and a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. He spoke with Sleep Better TV, providing online sleep breathing disorder video news content. Sleep Better TV is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.