Stop snoring and improve memory

American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Darien, IL– Stop your snoring and simultaneously improve your memory? Seems literally like a dream come true for snoring sleepers suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

A study conducted by Swedish scientists reveals oral appliance therapy, which uses a “mouth guard-like” device to treat sleep apnea, may also improve a host of cognitive functions.

The research, published this year in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep, studied 50 male patients with moderate-to-severe OSA who received an oral appliance, which is worn only during sleep to maintain an open, unobstructed airway. In addition to treating the physiological aspects of OSA, the study found the device improved cognitive functions such as memory, vigilance, executive functioning and mental pace after only six months’ time.

“Depending on the patient’s needs, the custom-fitted oral appliance will either hold the tongue in place or support the jaw in a forward position to keep the patient’s airway open and provide a more refreshing sleep,” said B. Gail Demko, DMD, president of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. “Research suggests that oral appliance therapy often can equal CPAP in effectiveness and offers a higher compliance rate than CPAP, and the Swedish study indicates there may be another significant benefit to oral appliance therapy.”

Dentists pioneered the use of oral appliance therapy to treat OSA, which afflicts 12-18 million adults in the U.S. Loud and frequent snoring is a common symptom, and people who have OSA stop breathing from a few seconds to more than a minute at a time. These breathing pauses are repeated throughout the night, occurring hundreds of times during one night of sleep in severe cases. OSA is a potentially life threatening condition that can increase the risk for a number of serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

Oral appliance therapy is as an effective alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, which are the traditionally-recommended treatment for sleep apnea. Some patients find it difficult to sleep with a CPAP machine, which includes a face mask, tubing and a constantly running motor. According to the AADSM, up to 50 percent of sleep apnea patients do not comply with or tolerate CPAP.  

For many, oral appliance devices are more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask. The devices also are quiet, portable and easy to care for. Oral appliance therapy is recommended for people with mild to moderate OSA. Once a patient is diagnosed with primary snoring or OSA by a board-certified sleep physician, a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine can provide treatment with oral appliance therapy.

Consumers with sleep apnea or loud, frequent snoring can go to to find a local dentist trained in oral appliance therapy.

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