By Fred Piper, DDS, MS, PC
Piper Orthodontics: Cordova and Midtown Memphis
It could almost qualify as one of medicine’s best kept secrets, but did you know that as an orthodontist, I may be able to help your sleep problem with a simple appliance? It’s one of the most gratifying things I do in my practice, helping patients who snore (and their sleep-deprived partners) to sleep through the night.
The device I use is called Silent Night: it fits over the teeth just like a set of retainers. A mechanism called a “slide lock” positions the jaws so that the airway stays open.
Let me explain: when you sleep, your lower jaw falls toward the pillow, and this can occlude or obstruct the airway. When the jaw is out of position, snoring and sleep apnea can result. You wake up gasping for breath because the soft tissue of the pharynx has occluded the airway, resulting in the nighttime noise we call snoring.
Our adult patient, Holley, said, “It’s the difference between being able to sleep through the night and not feeling tired the next day.” Holley found it difficult to fall back to sleep after an episode of sleep apnea. Her airway would close, her body would naturally correct its need for air with a sudden gasp, and the pattern would repeat itself many times through her sleep cycle.
As Holley’s orthodontist, I worked with her to help her get a custom fit for a comfortable sleep. And as a doctor, I love hearing that my treatment has improved my patients’ quality of life.With patients who snore, the treatment can usually make a big difference in two appointments. At the first appointment, I take an impression of the upper and lower teeth so that Silent Nite appliance can be made. When it’s ready in about a week, the patient picks up the device and I fit it to make sure it’s comfortable.
I can offer Silent Nite for $499, which includes two follow-up appointments after the fitting. As an orthodontist, I spend most of my time on braces, which take anywhere from a year to two years to finish. Sleep really is a quality of life issue, and it’s one that I can fix in a week.