You may have been prescribed a CPAP machine if your doctor diagnosed you with sleep apnea. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, and the machine blows forced air into your lungs through a mask.
Most people do not adjust well to wearing a CPAP mask and may even give up trying to treat their sleep apnea. Alternatively, you may be able to keep your airway open while sleeping by wearing an oral appliance.
Sleep apnea symptoms
Sleep apnea affects between 9 and 24% of adults, but 80% of moderate-to-severe cases remain undiagnosed. One of the most obvious symptoms of sleep apnea is that you snore when you sleep. Snoring occurs because sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing several times per hour, causing you to gasp for air during sleep.
However, other symptoms of sleep apnea are subtler and may be overlooked, especially if you sleep alone or your partner doesn’t report hearing you snore. Symptoms include:
- The sensation of waking up with a dry mouth
- Headaches in the morning
- Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive irritability
- Hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness during the day)
- Inability to pay attention.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that requires treatment. When left untreated, sleep apnea can impair your productivity at work and increase your risk for car accidents due to daytime sleepiness.
Sleep apnea, if left untreated, also increases your risk of developing insulin resistance or diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and liver problems.
Sleep apnea treatments
The most common method of treating sleep apnea is to use a device that helps you breathe when you sleep. Other than CPAP machines, bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines are also commonly used, which provide higher pressure for inhalation and lower pressure for exhalation.
As many people find it difficult to adjust to both of these machines, oral appliances offer an alternative. In addition to keeping your airway open, these devices are worn during sleep. There are multiple types of oral appliances available, some of which aim to keep the throat open by moving your jaw forward.
Additionally, oral appliances are more portable than CPAP or BiPAP machines due to their ease of use. As a result, they are much easier to take along when traveling or sleeping somewhere other than at home.
In addition to being completely silent, oral appliances have a significant advantage over CPAP machines. Although CPAPs have come a long way in terms of their noise levels, they are still very loud and may keep you and/or your sleep partner awake.
Furthermore, oral appliances are easy to maintain. All you need to do is brush the appliance with a toothbrush every day while using a gentle toothpaste and water. Daily and weekly cleaning is required for CPAP machines.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can have severe consequences. It is likely that you will be surprised at how much better you feel after sleeping with an oral appliance. Our dental practice specializes in the treatment of individuals with sleep apnea. Contact our office to schedule a consultation so you can enjoy a good night’s sleep.