Sleep apnea is a serious disease that causes a lack of oxygenation to the brain, a disease that has been linked to depression, muscle pain, heart attack, and stroke. Because you know this, you got a CPAP machine. At this point in time you likely find yourself in 1 of 2 categories: those who love their CPAP, and those who hate it. Unfortunately this is the reality of it, with few people being in-between.
For those who love it, AWESOME! It’s really a great treatment and you should stick with it! The only reason I would suggest looking into other options is if you travel often. As you likely know vacationing with a CPAP is no fun at all. You have to travel with a separate piece of luggage, you need to be near a power outlet when you sleep, and you have to find distilled water, which some places might not have. If this is more than a 2 times a year occurrence for you, you may want to consider oral appliance therapy for when you travel, and CPAP at home.
For those who hate it, we have something for you as well. Here are 4 things you should know about if you are currently using CPAP.
If you don’t already know, there are a ton of options when it comes to the CPAP. From different mask types and machines, to accessories like power banks and DC outlet converters, there are a lot of customization options. Here’s a list of a few:
- Full face masks
- Nasal pillow masks
- Nasal masks
- Philips Respironics CPAP
- Resmed AirSense CPAP
- Fisher & Paykel Icon CPAP
- Freedom CPAP battery
- XyliMelts (for dry mouth)
- Travel DC converter
If that wasn’t enough, theres also options other than the CPAP, including the BiPAP and the VPAP. Talk to your doctor to see if either of these options may be right for you.
If you’ve tried everything above and still simply cant tolerate the CPAP, whether its due to claustrophobic associations or interrupted sleep, you’re ready to move on to something else. So what are you options? Well, there’s really only a few:
- Oral appliance therapy (Custom)
- Surgery (most of the time)
- Boil and Bite appliance (Over the counter)
- Upper airway stimulation (Inspire Device)
- Weight Loss
- Sleep number bed / sleeping upright
For a full list of options and details, check out this comprehensive list provided by the American Sleep Apnea Association.
When it comes to successfully treating obstructive sleep apnea, positive airway pressure devices like the CPAP and custom oral appliances are the most widely studied and reliable options for treatment.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Next to CPAP, oral appliance therapy is the most studied and trusted sleep apnea treatment method. Oral appliance therapy is simple in concept but powerful when used. Using two dental trays, similar to Invisalign retainers, and some form of elastic band, rod, fin, or hook, the oral appliance holds the lower jaw forward at night, keeping the airway from closing.
When working with a qualified dentist, a custom oral appliance will be made and adjusted to the “sweet spot”, which is different for every patient. The main reason to go with a professional instead of a boil and bite is experience. With a qualified dentist, you wont have to worry about teeth movement or other complications. A good dentist will be able to help with jaw pain, fatigue, and bite changes, where if you use a boil and bite, you’re kind-of on your own.
If you’re interested in seeing a qualified dentist about oral appliance therapy, Dr. Susan Lunson has been treating Sleep apnea for over 20 years. Contact us today!