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How to find relief from snoring and sleep apnea without bulky machines.

Few things are as nerve-grating as snoring. If the noise, a rumbling soundtrack that interrupts dreams and robs sleepers of the rest they need, is coming from a partner, we might nudge them gently to change positions and quiet down. But loud snoring—especially when accompanied by daytime fatigue—may be a sign of sleep apnea. It can be tough to identify sleep apnea on your own, since the most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep. If pauses occur while you snore, and if choking or gasping follows the pauses, these are major warning signs that you have sleep apnea. Snoring can be more than just annoying and frustrating—It can be a serious problem. It is crucial to determine if snoring is mild and temporary, or indicative of a more serious condition like sleep apnea.


What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a treatable medical disorder that causes a breathing stoppage for 10 seconds or more, and can lead to gasping, gagging and a poor night’s sleep—for everyone, including the sufferer’s family. In recent years, the development of the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine has brought relief to many, but many struggle with the device and continue to seek relief. Luckily, there is another option to consider. There are oral appliances available that require no mask, are portable and comfortable, and provide relief from sleep apnea. “This is a less obtrusive mouth guard on a person’s upper and lower teeth that positions the jaw a bit forward to ward off the narrowing of the airway,” says Dr. Philip Pike of Wilmington-based Dental Health Associates. “Many people are CPAP-intolerant and can’t stand a mask over their face, or the noise of the machine.”

What causes sleep apnea? 

Sleep apnea is caused by relaxation of the muscles near the airways, causing soft tissue to collapse and create an obstruction. More than 40 million Americans suffer from this condition, which can lead to health problems such as heart disease, stroke and chronic fatigue. And those who suffer from chronic fatigue are at risk of falling asleep while working or driving. Another 40 million people snore, making the issue something that has attracted national attention.

Sleep apnea can obstruct the airway.

Sleep apnea symptoms

Is there treatment for sleep apnea? 

The CPAP machine has brought relief to many, and Dr. Pike refers to it as “the gold standard” in apnea treatment thanks to its high success rate. But the machine has its drawbacks. Many apnea sufferers find the device uncomfortable and obtrusive, which leads them to abandon it and experience a sense of disappointment, not to mention a lack of relief from symptoms—or apnea’s potential long-term effects. The oral appliance offers hope to those who can’t make the machines work. Dr. Pike reports that it is best suited for those who have mild to moderate sleep apnea. Internists and pulmonologists regularly refer patients to Dr. Pike, who then decides whether they are good candidates for the apparatus.

The EMA appliance opens the airway.

Dr. Pike uses the EMA appliance, made by

Myerson, LLC.

“Many of these patients have tried CPAP machines and they can’t stand them,” Dr. Pike says. “Sometimes they can’t handle it, and sometimes their partners don’t like the noise made by the machine.” In those cases, Dr. Pike will fit a patient with the sleep apnea device (often referred to as a ‘snore guard), which is usually followed by great results. The appliance offers extreme convenience—there is no bulky machinery or irritating sound to deal with. And because the appliance is contained completely in the mouth, those who wear it can talk or drink water with no problem. It is extremely portable and metal-free; plus, its elastic straps are latex-free.

“The vast majority of patients say this is the best thing they have ever done,” Dr. Pike says. “Some of my patients have multiple appliances made, in case they lose one, or if they have a second house and want to make sure they always have one there.” 

With a simple mouth guard, a good night’s sleep really can be had by all.


Dr. Philip Pike

Dr. Philip Pike began his practice of general dentistry in the Wilmington area in 1986. He completed his general practice residency at Christiana Care Hospital, where he remains on the staff.  His background in microbiology and infectious diseases lends itself well to his dental practice, where he emphasizes the overall health of his patients. Dr. Pike and his team at Dental Health Associates provide exceptional, comprehensive dental care, with an emphasis on restorative and cutting-edge cosmetic procedures. To learn more about Dr. Pike and his team, contact Dental Health Associates at 239-0303, or visit them at www.pikedentalhealth.com.