Snoring is normal, but loud snoring 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.
If you or your partner suspects sleep apnea, there are a couple of types of treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP therapy is effective in treating sleep apnea, as it can offer 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.
Continuous positive airway pressure (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.
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.
Patients using a CPAP Therapy will find advantages over the user of dental oral appliances. Among these advantages are the following:
While some patients have trouble getting used to them, some patients have noted the following disadvantages:
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.
Patients using a sleep apnea dental appliance will find many advantages over the user of traditional CPAP machines. Among these advantages are the following:
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:
Coverage for this treatment varies between medical insurance providers, so it’s important to check with your plan about coverage. If you’re not sure if it will be covered, we will be happy to help figure this out for you.
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.
Your CPAP machine and accessories to treat sleep apnea must be carefully maintained in order to be effective, clean, and safe.
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.
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.
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.
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to feeling tired, lethargic, and can even serious health problems like risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. 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.