As we discussed in our previous post, obstructive sleep apnea is a dangerous sleep disorder that can dramatically increase your risk for a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease.
, stroke, and depression. Successfully alleviating the severity of your sleep apnea symptoms depends on an accurate diagnosis and treatment for each patient’s case. In the United States, most sleep apnea sufferers have two treatment options to choose from: wearing an intraoral device called oral appliance therapy or using a CPAP machine. Both options will help sustain a healthy flow of air into the body while you sleep when used consistently and correctly. However, a number of highly personal factors will ultimately determine which one is best for you.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Also known as mandibular repositioning devices (or known under brand names like the TAP appliance or Somnodent), oral appliance therapy provides an easier way to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea. Popular in Canada and Europe for many years, MRDs have only recently come into vogue in the United States and, surprisingly, can only be prescribed by a dentist trained in treating sleep disorders. The custom-fitted oral appliances are fabricated in a dental lab to fit the precise measurements of your mouth and jaw. Made of hard acrylic, the appliance has two parts that fit snugly over your top and bottom dental arches. The device gently repositions the lower jaw so that it protrudes slightly and thus prevents the airway from closing as the throat muscles relax during sleep. Oral appliances are great for patients who:
- Have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
- Who have difficulty using their prescribed CPAP machine consistently.
Since the success of your sleep apnea treatment depends heavily on your willingness to comply with treatment, it makes sense to choose an option which feels less bulky.
Constant Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
For years, sleep apnea sufferers in the United States relied on CPAP machines to help them breathe at night and reduce the deleterious effects of exhaustion and low blood oxygen associated with this serious sleep disorder. Now, people with mild to moderate sleep apnea can opt for oral appliance therapy to help them breathe better at night. However, oral appliances do not fully address the problems experienced by patients suffering from severe sleep apnea. In these cases, CPAP machines still provide the best treatment option.
With most CPAP therapy, the patient wears a mask over their nose and mouth (although some patients have the option of wearing a nose-only mask) during sleep. The CPAP maintains a constant air pressure within the throat and allows for the healthy flow of air into the body. CPAP machines do require an adjustment period for the wearer and many patients stop using their CPAPs for this reason. It’s important to remember, though, that the health benefits of receiving consistent, quality sleep far outweigh the initial discomfort of wearing a CPAP.
About Dr. Marco Cueva
Marco Cueva, DDS, MS is a board-certified periodontist with extensive training and experience providing a full range of advanced dental care services, including treatment for sleep apnea and snoring. New patients can schedule an appointment or consultation with Periodontic Excellence at our Allen, TX dental office by calling 972-390-9944.