Most people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are familiar with the continuous positive
airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
This device consists of a machine with a tube and a mask that you attach to your face at night, and it circulates air in an effort to provide continuous pressure to keep your airway open, therefore preventing the airway collapse that comes with obstructive sleep apnea.
However, while CPAP therapy is effective when used properly, it’s also known for being too uncomfortable and noisy for many patients. For some, CPAP prevents the exact thing it’s designed to do—facilitate a good night’s rest and reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
Could your dentist help get you off your CPAP? Here’s how your oral healthcare professional might just be able to provide another way for sleep apnea relief!
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) for Sleep Apnea
An oral appliance is a device that’s similar to a retainer and is worn inside the mouth. This device prevents the collapsed airway and snoring that sleep apnea patients experience.
Oral appliances are custom-made for your unique jaw structure and come in different designs depending on what you need. Some of these devices shift the lower jaw forward, allowing the airway to remain open, and others prevent the tongue from blocking the airway during sleep .
Patients who use oral appliances for sleep apnea love the discreetness of the device, making not only sleeping but traveling easier. The device is simple, comfortable, and gives patients a new way to keep their airway open during sleep and stop the severe consequences associated with sleep apnea.
What Does Research Say About the Effectiveness of OAT?
Some patients might be hesitant to switch to an oral appliance from a CPAP machine. However, research shows that an oral appliance can be just as effective as CPAP, just without the discomfort!
Research shows that oral appliances can work as an effective alternative to CPAP for the majority of patients who suffer from sleep apnea . Other studies show that patients who have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea can benefit from oral appliances for their treatment .
Further research concluded that it was easier for patients to comply with OAT therapy as
opposed to CPAP, making it a viable option for long-term treatment . Some people neglect to wear their CPAP mask nightly, as it can make sleeping uncomfortable and prevent patients from committing to the treatment long-term. However, treatment is essential to curb your sleep apnea symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening.
Tired of Your CPAP Machine?
If your doctor has prescribed a CPAP machine to manage your sleep apnea, it might be time to follow up with your dentist to determine if oral appliance therapy could work for you. For many patients, these devices provide a way to successfully manage sleep apnea without the need for a machine!