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Alternative Treatments for Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea CPAP vs Oral Appliances

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a condition in which a person has multiple pauses in breathing while they sleep. Excessive daytime sleepiness and snoring are the most prevalent signs of this disorder. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the airway becomes blocked or collapses during sleep. Small children with enlarged tonsils and overweight adults are most often affected by OSA but it can occur in anyone.

Oral Appliances for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Douglas Dentistry offers Oral Appliances for the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. As obstructive sleep apnea has become a more common concern, medical and dental professionals have worked together to produce simpler and less invasive techniques to treat it. Oral Appliances are a great solution for sufferers of mild to moderate OSA. They can also be used as an alternative for people who cannot tolerate CPAP.

Oral Appliance Side View

Oral Appliances (also called "mouthpieces" or "dental devices") are custom-fit plastic mouth guard-like devices that are worn during sleep. They work by repositioning and stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue to allow the airway to remain unobstructed while sleeping. Oral appliances are preferred amongst sufferers of sleep apnea due to their small size and transportability. Other advantages of oral appliances is their short acclimation time. Most people become comfortable with their device in a couple of weeks. Oral devices can also be recommended for snoring when sleep apnea is not a factor. Oral Appliances for sleep apnea are covered by most insurance companies.

Other Treatments for Sleep Apnea

  • Lifestyle Changes:
  • Mild sleep apnea can often be treated with some changes in daily lifestyle habits and activities. If you are overweight, lose it- even a little weight loss can make a difference. If you are a smoker, quit it. If you sleep on your back, switch to your side to allow your throat to stay open. Nasal sprays and allergy medicines can also keep nasal passages open at night- talk to your doctor about these recommendations. Avoid medicines that make you drowsy and Alcohol- these can make it difficult for your throat to stay open as you sleep.

  • Breathing Devices:
  • CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a machine that gently blows air into your throat as you sleep. It is a common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. The pressure from the air keeps your airway open as you sleep. There are many different types of CPAP machines and your specialist can help find the mask that fits you the best. Side effects include dry mouth, headaches, dry or stuffy nose, skin irritation on your face, and stomach bloating (if not adjusted properly).

  • Surgery:
  • Surgery for obstructive sleep apnea is dependent on the location of the obstruction. A tonsillectomy, shrinking, stiffening, or removing excess tissue in the throat, or resetting the jaw are different forms of surgery that might be beneficial.

Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea

When left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk of heart failure, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and arrhythmias.

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