If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, chances are that you’ve heard about CPAP treatment even if it hasn’t already been prescribed for you. This treatment works well for many, but others find it irritating and inconvenient. Whatever your experience with this treatment, you may not be aware that there are alternatives to CPAP machine treatment.
In this blog, the Atlanta snoring doctors at Atlanta Snoring Institute will explain one such option – a nonsurgical sleep apnea treatment called oral appliance therapy. This blog will address how the treatment works and its advantages over CPAP.
How Oral Appliance Therapy Works
Sleep apnea can be caused by various factors depending upon the individual. For some people, obstructive sleep apnea is caused because of a narrow airway and/or a tongue that falls back into the airway at night, obstructing breathing. Oral appliance therapy is well suited for these types of patients because it effectively repositions the jaw and stabilizes the tongue – helping to enlarge the airway, prevent tongue obstruction and promote proper airflow during sleep.
The first step to determining whether you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy as an alternative to the CPAP machine is to be examined by a board-certified snoring and sleep apnea specialist in Atlanta. If an oral appliance is recommended, the process of starting treatment is quite simple. First, impressions are taken of your teeth, just like you might experience when being fitted for an orthodontic or dental appliance. Using these molds, your custom-fitted mouthpiece for sleep apnea will be fabricated. For some devices, the actual appliance is molded in the office. Once it’s ready to use, your doctor will provide you with instructions on how to use the device and care for it.
Using your oral appliance device is very straightforward. Each night, you insert the mouthpiece before bed, just like you might insert a mouth guard before playing contact sports. Once inserted, the appliance will advance the jaw forward slightly and hold the tongue in place. This keeps your airway open and prevents the symptoms of sleep apnea. Simple adjustments can be made afterwards to increase comfort and effectiveness, if needed. Once you are used to the device and sleeping well, a home sleep study will be obtained while you wear the device. This will confirm if your sleep apnea is completely controlled.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy eliminates many of the reasons for non-compliance with CPAP treatment. For starters, it doesn’t produce feelings of suffocation and it isn’t noisy or cumbersome. It is also simple to travel with.
This alternative to CPAP machine treatment has many other advantages as well, which include:
- Non-invasive – This treatment requires no surgery and the process of initial evaluation, fitting and follow-up is simple. There is no need for a long, involved planning period or recovery.
- No more CPAP – While CPAP has a number of commonly cited complaints including dry mouth, runny nose and facial irritation, oral appliance therapy allows you to trade out your confining CPAP mask for a comfortable oral device that causes minimal (if any) side effects.
- Quick adjustment period – Uptake and acceptance of oral appliance therapy occurs much faster than with CPAP. Most patients are fully adjusted to using the oral device for sleep apnea within just a few nights of wearing it.
- Easy to use and travel with – The only thing you need to do to use this alternative to the CPAP machine is insert it into your mouth before you go to sleep. Because of its compact size and portable nature, it is easy to pack when you are traveling. There are no bulky cords, tubes or masks to worry about.
- Aids compliance – Because it is so comfortable and easy to use, oral appliance therapy helps you comply with regular treatment for your sleep apnea. This, in turn, helps eliminate many of the adverse health risks and other problems that are created by sleep apnea. Better compliance also results in better sleep and more energy during the day.
Find Out Whether You’re A Candidate for This Alternative to the CPAP Machine
Of the large number of patients who are non-compliant with CPAP, many are good candidates for oral appliance therapy. The first step to learning whether this alternative to the CPAP machine is a good fit for you is to schedule a consultation with the Atlanta Snoring Institute at one of our three practice locations in the Atlanta area – Buckhead, Fayetteville and Stockbridge. You can get started by filling out the yellow schedule appointment form right on this page or by contacting our office. Take the first step towards breaking free from sleepless nights and a bulky machine that sometimes feels worse than the condition it is meant to treat.