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Sleep Apnea Appliances

Dr. Shuman is a Somnodent Elite Practitioner

Oral Appliance Treatment for Snoring and Sleep Apnea

What is Snoring?

Is snoring simply an innocent by-product of sleep? Is snoring just an annoyance to a bed partner, and of no consequence to the one who snores?

The answer to both questions depends on the severity of the snoring. Virtually all of us snore from time to time. In fact, it is estimated that at least 35% of the world's population snores, and out of that 35%, 40% have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). These numbers continue to grow every day. For some, snoring is no more than an occasional, inconvenient habit; but chronic heavy loud snoring can be much more serious.

Click here to view the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.

Why Do I Snore?

Snoring usually occurs when your tongue and the tissues around the back of the throat relax during sleep. This relaxation causes the tongue and the soft tissue around the palatal area to fall back and block (obstruct) your airway. This blockage reduces the amount of air going into your body.

Your body realizes this reduction in airflow, panics, and increases the velocity of air entering your body. This increase in airflow velocity causes the fine tissues in your throat to vibrate and cause the snoring noise.

This cause of simple snoring covers 90% of the world's snorers. The remaining 10% snore due to some form of nasal obstruction. For example: chronic and/or seasonal allergies, a deviated septum, or a broken nose may cause a snoring problem.

What about the sprays I have seen on TV?

These sprays do stop the snoring noise. How? When you use the spray, the spray lubricates the tissues at the back of the throat and prevents them from vibrating. These sprays are generally expensive and may work for about an hour or so. The efficacy of these sprays can be reduced should you drink something. You can achieve the same results by swallowing a spoonful of cooking oil. Using sprays can mask or hide symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

What is Sleep Apnea and is it dangerous?

Apnea, a Greek word meaning "without breath" describes a syndrome familiar to most people as snoring. Apnea refers to the subsequent cessation of breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea earned its name because breathing actually stops for ten seconds to a minute or more.

This is called an apneic event. This apneic event occurs when the upper airway passage is blocked, or obstructed. This obstruction is due to the relaxation of the muscles, tissues, and tongue surrounding the pharynx during sleep, causing them to collapse. For this reason, it is commonly referred to by those in the medical profession as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA; this is the most common form of apnea.

Is sleep apnea dangerous? Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the second leading cause of stroke in men and the fourth leading cause of cardiac arrest in women. Nearly 40% of the world's population has some form of sleep apnea.

somnodent How does the Somnodent Work?

The Somnodent resembles an orthodontic retainer and is worn while sleeping. It is custom-fit to your upper and lower teeth after taking impressions, pouring up models, and taking a bite in the office. These are sent out to the only lab in the U.S. that fabricates the Somnomedent, so quality control is superb. It takes about 15 working days to fabricate the appliance.

The Somnodent eliminates or greatly reduces the snoring noise in patients who fall into the 90% category by preventing the tongue and soft tissues around the palate from dropping back and obstructing the airway.

When a snorer wears the Somnodent appliance, the Somnodent gently moves the lower jaw (mandible) forward. With the lower jaw forward, even slightly, the tongue will follow forward and the tissues around the soft palate will tighten up. With the lower jaw in this position, it is physically impossible for the tongue and the soft palatal tissues to retrude and obstruct the airway. The more forward the lower jaw is, the greater the airway opening. In other words, you get more air, and you don't snore.

Clinical studies show the Somnodent appliance is 91% effective in significantly improving sleep quality and is a proven treatment of snoring and mild to moderate apnea. Dr. Shuman wears one nightly and finds it both effective and the most comfortable appliance he has tried.

The first night you wear your Somnodent appliance should be a quiet night. Don't be discouraged if you wear your Somnodent for only 45 minutes or so during the first few attempts. Most patients are able to wear their Somnodent completely through the night within four to seven nights. Dr. Shuman was able to wear it for the entire night on day one. Before you know it, wearing the Somnodent to bed becomes a natural habit.

During the first few weeks of wearing your Somnodent, you might experience excessive salivation. Don't worry; what is happening is your body is trying to "flush" a foreign object out of your mouth. Your body will soon learn to accept you wearing the Somnodent. Once in a while, your body may forget and you will find you may have drooled on your pillow.

In approximately 3% of patients who wear the Somnodent, there might be slight movement of some teeth. This movement is usually due to pre-existing periodontal problems. The Somnodent is a painless treatment for snoring and causes no permanent changes to your body. Your Somnodent is made of lab-processed acrylic and should last up to five years and possibly longer.

The Somnodent appliance was not designed to replace Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP), but to be used when CPAP is not an option or tolerated.

How do I take care of my Somnodent?

Your Somnodent appliance requires very little care. We recommend that when you remove your Somnodent, brush it in cool water with your toothbrush to remove any foreign material that might be on it. Pay particular attention to the metal parts. Once or twice a week, soak it for five minutes it in a partial denture cleaner found at most drug stores. Do not leave it out if you have a dog. Dogs love Somnodents.

Temporary side effects can include tooth movement from change in the bite, pain of the TMJ, and excessive salivation. Please contact Dr. Shuman regarding any of the possible side effects.

The SomnoDent is the oral appliance that Dr. Shuman personally uses. It is a highly effective solution for the majority of patients with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea who prefer oral appliances to CPAP therapy. Its exceptional level of patient acceptance, compliance, and treatment efficacy are backed by a large body of clinical research.

The SomnoDent  moves the lower jaw forward slightly, which tightens the soft tissues and muscles of the upper airway, preventing obstruction during sleep. The tightening also prevents tissues of the upper airway from vibrating as air passes over them, thus eliminating snoring. For more information, call the office and also check out

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