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Dental Appliance Aids Weight Loss and Could Also Reduce Sleep Apnea

By Ira Shapira, D.D.S., F.I.C.C.M.O.
Reprinted from Sleep & Health - July 2004

The DDS System, from Scientific Intake, is a new way to lose weight by altering some of the underlying causes of obesity. This behavior modification device slows the pace at which meals are consumed and allows the brain to register satiety.

Satiety is the brain's signal that we have taken in the nutrition we need and are full. There are natural feedback systems that limit hunger, but our modern fast food culture and on-the-run meals have short-circuited them.

The DDS System is an appliance that fits on the roof of the mouth and effectively makes the volume of the mouth smaller. As a result, the person takes smaller bites. This also increases the time it takes to eat a meal. A study has shown that when the appliance was worn at every meal, the total calories consumed decreased by about 25 percent. More important, these calories were not consumed at a later time.

The appliance is worn only when eating, and studies have shown that patients who complied with treatment lost an average of 5.9 pounds per month. Those using the DDS System are expected to continue to lose weight, because they will have trained themselves to eat slower and take smaller bites.

It is well known that as weight increases, so does snoring and sleep apnea. It is not so well known that as our sleep is deprived, we gain weight or have difficulty losing it.

During deep sleep, our bodies produce a hormone responsible for growth. In children, the hormone increases growth. In adults, it affects metabolism, increasing muscle tissue and reducing fat tissue. If we produce less growth hormone, we have less muscle and more fat. This starts a cycle of weight gain and poor sleep that is hard to break.

When sleep apnea is treated, activity levels increase, as does the production of growth hormone, and it becomes easier to lose weight. Dental appliances that treat sleep apnea are extremely effective in many, but not all, patients. CPAP is the gold standard of treatment for sleep apnea, but is not nearly as well tolerated as intraoral dental appliances. In fact, many studies have shown that less than half of all patients are successful with CPAP.

In general, as patients gain weight, their sleep apnea becomes worse and the pressure needed for CPAP increases. The more obese a person is, the more difficult it becomes to treat with an oral appliance. It is expected that the new DDS System will help curb the obesity epidemic currently affecting the health of millions.

Ira Shapira, DDS., F.I.C.C.M.O., and Mark Amidei, DDS are general dentists in Gurnee, IL who have been treating sleep apnea, snoring, TMJ disorders, chronic headaches and migraines with oral appliances for over 20 years.

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