Sleep apnea is a condition where a person's throat frequently closes while sleeping, such that their breathing gets obstructed momentarily. However, the pause in breathing can last for a few seconds or minutes. 

Due to stalled breathing, people with this condition often experience insomnia and fatigue due to lack of sleep and severe headaches upon waking up. However, if the condition doesn't get treated, it can result in more severe health issues.

There are different types of treatments for sleep apnea, including the use of oral appliance therapy. Sleep apnea oral appliance therapy involves using oral appliances such as a tongue retaining device and a mandibular advancement device to ensure your breathing doesn't get obstructed. 

Different Types of Oral Appliance Therapy 

Oral appliance therapy uses different types of custom-fit appliances that a person can easily fit in their mouth while sleeping. Thus it is the best non-surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and an excellent alternative to continuous positive airway treatment (CPAP), which can be uncomfortable to use while sleeping. 

There are two main types of oral appliances used to treat sleep apnea: a tongue retaining device (TRD) and a mandibular advancement device (MAD). 

1. Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)

A MAD device treats sleep apnea by pushing the lower jaw and the tongue forward while a person sleeps. With the lower jaw and tongue in a slightly advancing position, a person's throat can't get constricted. Thus, as long as a person has the MAD device, there will be no constriction of breathing irrespective of the sleeping position, which counters their sleep apnea.

There are two types of MAD devices. One is custom or semi-custom built to fit a person-specific mouth measurement, while the other can get bought over the counter (OTC). OTC MAD appliances are constructed from soft materials that can adjust to the shape of your mouth. 

However, OTC MAD appliances require to get boiled before use to improve the malleability of the soft materials.

Due to the cost of customizing a MAD, custom-built MAD appliances are more expensive and more effective than OTC MAD oral appliances. 

2. Tongue Retaining Device (TRD)

A TRD is a small plastic mouthpiece that resembles a mouth guard used in sports. Unlike a regular mouth guard, the TRD has a tongue slot at the center where you insert your tongue before going to sleep. Thus, while you are sleeping, the tongue slot holds your tongue to prevent it from blocking your throat. Hence, it enables you to constantly breathe while you sleep, thus alleviating your sleep apnea. 

Benefits of Sleep Apnea Oral Appliance Therapy

1. In addition to enabling a person to sleep well at night, sleep apnea oral appliance therapy is a less expensive treatment for sleep apnea than getting a surgical operation.

2. Oral appliance therapy is more comfortable to use than a Continuous Positive Airway Treatment (CPAP) device. People often complain that CPAP devices are uncomfortable to sleep with, and as a result, their success rate is lower than that of oral appliances.

3. Oral appliance therapy is a non-invasive treatment for sleep apnea because you don't need to undergo surgery to utilize the appliances.

4. The success rate of oral appliances as a treatment for sleep apnea is higher than that of continuous positive airway treatment (CPAP).