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Sleep Apnea Dental Appliance vs CPAP

Sleep apnea patients

Snoring is normal, but snoring that is loud and interrupted by periods of silence may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is also associated with excessive tiredness, headaches, daytime sleepiness, and an inability to stay focused or alert during the day.

Fortunately, there are treatment options available for sleep apnea sufferers. Sleep apnea treatment will depend on the type and severity of your sleep apnea, and each is effective. Oral appliances and CPAP machines open obstructed airways, alleviate sleep apnea symptoms, and improve your quality of life.

CPAP therapy is effective in treating sleep apnea. It can offer your patients a better quality of life without requiring surgery. There is, however, a limitation to CPAP: not everyone can tolerate it due to discomfort or medical reasons. In such cases, a dentist specializing in sleep apnea may recommend an alternative treatment option such as oral appliance therapy.

Differences between Dental Oral Appliances and
CPAP Machines

CPAP machines and oral appliances may seem similar because they treat similar symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. However, they differ in several ways. Specifically, CPAP machines are attached to a mask worn over the face while oral appliances are placed in your mouth.

After visiting a sleep clinic or taking a home sleep study, your sleep doctor or sleep specialist will review your results. A comprehensive sleep study performed in a facility that monitors your breathing, heart rate, brain activity, blood pressure, and oxygen levels during the night will give you the best results for treatment. Treating obstructive sleep apnea will depend on the severity of the disorder, where one of these two treatments, CPAP or oral appliance, might be right for you.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure - CPAP

CPAP therapy is a proven intervention for sleep apnea patients who suffer from moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea. The CPAP device improves sleep and oxygen levels in patients by delivering oxygen through a mask over the nose and mouth through a tube while they sleep. Using CPAP therapy reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cognitive impairment, memory and attention problems, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. For CPAP treatment to work, it requires a commitment from the patient, and users who follow their treatment plan as prescribed, notice an immediate improvement in energy level and symptoms.

If the patient suffers a mild to moderate OSA,  your sleep doctor will most likely use the most effective treatment for your condition, but this will depend on many factors, including your symptoms, how severe your OSA is, and your overall health. When given the option to decide, most patients opt for an oral appliance provided they may achieve similar results with less hassle of using a CPAP machine.

Sleep Apnea Machine

What are the advantages of a CPAP Therapy?

Patients using a CPAP Therapy will find advantages over the user of dental oral appliances. Among these advantages are the following:

  • The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment is an established treatment for severe sleep apnea. Because of the air pressure that it creates, it keeps the passageway open, resulting in your symptoms to ease and your sleep and well-being to improve at the first treatment session.
  • Thanks to technological advances, sleep apnea devices are now more comfortable than before. CPAP mask options abound, and it is quite easy to find an affordable price.
  • For patients ready to treat sleep apnea, talk to your sleep doctor about ordering sleep equipment – masks, pillows, and machines. Each mask is custom-made to fit your face comfortably, and the equipment will be adjusted for you during a series of tests at the sleep lab.

What are the Disadvantages of a CPAP Therapy?

While some patients have trouble getting used to them, some patients have noted the following disadvantages:

  • Adapting to the CPAP mask is one of the most common problems users face. Side-sleepers will have to position their bodies correctly with regular use to adjust to the device.
  • Adjusting to CPAP therapy can be a challenge, and it may take some time to get used to the mask and tubing.
  • A few users may experience problems such as claustrophobia and sleeplessness due to these issues.
  • Light sleepers will find that the device is too noisy.
  • Some patients report having problems such as dry, sore, runny, or stuffy noses. Other patients experience developing sores, acne, or ingrown hairs where the mask and bands rub against the skin. These issues can be minimized with careful adjustment of the equipment and by trying different masks.

Oral Appliance Therapy

An oral appliance, also known as a dental appliance, sleep apnea dental device, or oral device, is a non-invasive cost-effective way to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea disorder. When using a sleep apnea dental appliance, it is a removable dental device that keeps your upper airway open and helps you breathe more easily when you sleep.

Depending on the severity of the obstructive sleep apnea disorder, using a dental appliance is a significant component of treatment for most people with mild to moderate forms of sleep apnea. These appliances look just like mouth guards and work by gently pushing the jaw forward, maintaining an open airway while you sleep. When you visit a dentist trained to practice dental sleep medicine, your dentist will create a custom-made sleep apnea oral appliance that is easy to sleep with. When in use, it can significantly reduce the severity of the condition, prevents you from snoring, and allow you to get a good night’s rest.

What are the advantages of a dental sleep apnea device?

Patients using a sleep apnea dental appliance will find many advantages over the user of traditional CPAP machines. Among these advantages are the following:

  • Easier to use and more comfortable
    No dry nasal issues – Patients who use CPAP sometimes complain of dry nasal passages, sore noses, and congestion. But with a sleep apnea oral device such as a mandibular advancement device, it doesn’t supply force air to your nose and throat, causing nasal irritation.
  • The appliance is incredibly portable and small in size, making it easy to travel with.
    The majority of patients see improved sleep quality after the first week of use with their dental device.
  • Affordability – A dental appliance’s cost is significantly less than a CPAP therapy after factoring in the machine, the accessories, and the ongoing maintenance cost required to keep the CPAP functioning properly.
  • Treats your sleep apnea – Most significantly, you may be more inclined to utilize an oral appliance than a CPAP. Many patients find CPAP to be inconvenient or intrusive, and as a result, they discontinue their therapy or are inconsistent with it. Because using an oral appliance is easy to use, we see more patients have a higher compliance rate.

What are the Disadvantages of a dental sleep apnea device?

For people with mild to moderate sleep apnea, using an oral appliance is often more effective than CPAP therapy. While some patients do have problems getting used to them, most concerns can be fixed easily during regular follow-up visits to ensure the fit and effectiveness of your dental appliance. Some patients have noted the following disadvantages:

  • Wearing this device may result in the wearer experiencing more drooling, especially if they sleep with their mouth open.
  • Dry mouth due to excess drooling.
  • Sore teeth or gums
  • Jaw discomfort or pain

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does an oral appliance for sleep apnea last?

Most patients can use an oral appliance to treat their sleep apnea for two years before it needs to be replaced. The length of time the device lasts is affected by many factors, such as how often it is used, whether it is maintained and cleaned.

Does CPAP therapy require ongoing maintenance?

Your CPAP machine and accessories to treat sleep apnea must be carefully maintained in order to be effective, clean, and safe.

Is an over-the-counter oral appliance a good substitute for treatment of sleep apnea?

In general, over-the-counter oral devices should not be used for obstructive sleep apnea treatment. In certain situations, OTC oral devices might force the jaw in a position that makes it worse for the airway. Without the proper treatment and supervision from a health care professional, there are no benefits to these devices that outweigh the risks associated with using them.

Alternative Treatment For Sleep Apnea?

Another alternative for people with sleep apnea is to try positional therapy or Nightlase laser treatment. 

When combined with oral appliance therapy or the use of a CPAP, positional therapy is a technique that works to change sleep posture to improve breathing.

For patients looking not to use a device while they sleep, Sloan Creek Dental uses Nightlase laser treatment to decrease or tighten extra tissue in the mouth. The procedure is non-invasive and is done over a few sessions in the office.

Which Therapy Should You Use for Your Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Today, oral appliances are approved as an initial treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and as a severe sleep apnea treatment alternative to CPAP for those who cannot tolerate the devices and masks. For many people, using a dental appliance is a viable treatment alternative to CPAP because they’re easier to integrate into their lives without significant adjustments. If this idea sounds like a good fit for you, talk to your dentist specializing in sleep apnea to determine if you might be a candidate for an oral appliance.

Invest in your health and get a good nights rest in Fairview, TX

At Sloan Creek Dental, we believe you deserve restful sleep. If you are interested in learning more about the cost of treating sleep apnea treatment or how we treat sleep apnea, contact our office online or call us at 972-468-1440, or leave us a message.  

Our dental office is located in Fairview, Texas, and our patients visit us from across the surrounding areas, including Allen, Plano, McKinney, and Lucas.