Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic sleep disorder associated with snoring and pauses in breathing. Treatment is essential; doing so will eliminate daytime drowsiness, and help prevent a number of potentially serious medical complications including heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.
While continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is the preferred method of treatment, not everybody is able to tolerate sleeping with a mask attached to a machine that delivers bursts of air to the throat. Oral appliances are an alternative for these patients. They work by either moving the lower jaw forward to keep the airway passages open, or holding the tongue in place to prevent it from falling backward and blocking the airway.
Oral appliances are most effective for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea.
Advantages of Oral Appliances
Oral appliances may be either fixed or adjustable and are available in many different styles with as many as 40 different patents in existence. Some are custom designed to fit the individual’s mouth after impressions are made, and must be prescribed by a dentist, oral surgeon or ENT physician with sleep medicine experience. Others are considered one-size-fits-all.
There are several advantages to using oral appliances over other sleep apnea treatment methods. They are easy to use, inexpensive, and effective for treating a number of sleep disorders including snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome, and obstructive sleep apnea. They are easy to insert and remove and tend to have higher compliance rates than CPAP. Younger patients who have to moderate sleep apnea, lower BMI and smaller neck sizes are most likely to see positive results from oral appliances.
Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy is the most commonly prescribed treatment for people suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This sleep disorder affects an estimated 18 million Americans and is characterized by periodic breathing interruptions throughout the night. These pauses, or gaps, in breathing may be accompanied by choking or gasping, but rarely awaken the sleeping individual. People with OSA experience excessive daytime sleepiness and have an increased risk of serious health issues such as congestive heart failure, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmia.
PAP therapy is used to keep the airway open during sleep by supplying air pressure through the nose. This air travels down the throat and the pressure prevents the upper airway from collapsing, which leads to snoring and interruptions in breathing.
The most popular type of treatment is the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device. This machine utilizes a face or nasal mask connected to a pump, which provides a positive flow of air powerful enough to keep your airway passage open. The device must be worn every night to be effective. While some find it inconvenient and uncomfortable, the results are typically instantaneous and worth the discomfort. Both machines and masks are available in a variety of styles and sizes, which can be geared toward your individual needs. Some people benefit from a nasal mask that covers the nose, while others require a full-face mask that covers both the nose and mouth. Nasal pillows, consisting of soft silicone tubes that are placed directly in the nostrils, are another popular option. An optional humidifier can help prevent nasal irritation and drainage by providing a steady flow of heated and moisturized air.
A number of alternative PAP devices is available. Autofiltrating positive airway pressure (APAP) automatically increases or decreases air pressure throughout the night as needed. Bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP) devices increase the pressure level when the people breathes in, and decrease it when they breathe out. These machines often help individuals who have trouble with the basic CPAP device.
Call (913) 663-5100 for more information or to schedule an appointment.