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Sleep Apnea Oral Appliance Therapy- How it Works

by | Jun 30, 2024

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing repeatedly during sleep. These pauses in breathing can happen several times an hour and may last for seconds to minutes. It often leads to poor sleep quality and can result in daytime tiredness and other health problems. SleepWell is your Lafayette sleep doctor and is here to help you through all these problems

For sleep apnea treatment, SleepWell offers a more comfortable solution. Treatment options for sleep apnea depend on the severity and type of sleep apnea:

Oral appliances are a type of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition where the airway becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep. Here’s how oral appliances can help:

  1. Positioning the Jaw: Oral appliances work by repositioning the lower jaw and the tongue slightly forward during sleep. This forward movement helps to keep the airway open by preventing the collapse of the soft tissues at the back of the throat that can obstruct the air passage.
  2. Increasing Airway Space: By advancing the lower jaw, oral appliances increase the space at the back of the throat and reduce the likelihood of the tongue and soft tissues blocking the airway. This helps in improving airflow and reducing the number of apnea (breathing cessation) and hypopnea (shallow breathing) events during sleep.
  3. Improving Sleep Quality: By reducing the frequency and severity of apnea episodes, oral appliances can lead to better sleep quality. Sleep apnea disrupts normal sleep patterns and can lead to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and other health issues. By improving breathing during sleep, oral appliances help patients achieve deeper, more restful sleep.
  4. Ease of Use: Oral appliances are generally comfortable and easy to use compared to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, which are another common treatment for sleep apnea. Some people find oral appliances more tolerable and easier to incorporate into their nightly routine.
  5. Customization: Oral appliances are usually custom-fitted by a dentist or orthodontist to ensure a proper fit and effectiveness. This customization helps optimize the position of the jaw for each individual patient.
  6. Alternative for CPAP Intolerance: For patients who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy (due to discomfort, claustrophobia, or other reasons), oral appliances offer an effective alternative treatment option.

SleepWell is experienced in sleep disorders and can evaluate whether an oral appliance is suitable and can customize the device for optimal effectiveness and comfort. Regular follow-ups are essential to monitor progress and adjust the appliance as needed. It’s essential for individuals with sleep apnea to consult with a SleepWell doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment based on their specific condition and needs

Oral appliances are becoming more commonly used:

Oral appliances are often chosen for the treatment of sleep apnea for reasons such as non-invasive, easy to use, comfortable & easy to travel with, and studies have shown it improves the quality of life.

However, it’s key to note that the effectiveness of oral appliances can vary depending on the severity and type of sleep apnea. They may be more suitable for individuals with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea or for those who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy. It’s crucial for individuals with sleep apnea to discuss their options with us at SleepWell to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

What is CPAPs and the underlying issues with it?

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It is a common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and sometimes other breathing disorders during sleep. CPAP therapy is prescribed based on the severity of the sleep apnea diagnosed by a sleep study. It is effective for many people with OSA and can significantly improve sleep quality, reduce daytime sleepiness, and lower the risk of associated health problems when used consistently and correctly.

While CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy is highly effective for treating sleep apnea, it does come with some challenges and issues that patients may encounter:

  1. Mask Discomfort: Many patients find wearing a CPAP mask uncomfortable, especially initially. It can feel claustrophobic, cause skin irritation, or lead to pressure sores on the face.
  2. Dryness or Congestion: The continuous airflow from the CPAP machine can cause dryness of the nose, mouth, or throat. Some patients may also experience nasal congestion or irritation.
  3. Difficulty with Breathing Against Pressure: Some individuals find it challenging to exhale against the pressure provided by the CPAP machine, leading to discomfort or difficulty breathing naturally.
  4. Noise: CPAP machines can be noisy, which may disturb the sleep of the patient or their bed partner.
  5. Mask Leak: Ensuring a proper seal with the CPAP mask is crucial for effective therapy. Mask leaks can reduce the effectiveness of treatment and disrupt sleep.
  6. Difficulty with Travel: CPAP machines are typically bulky and require electricity, which can make traveling with them challenging. Portable CPAP machines are available but may not offer all the features of a standard CPAP machine.

Interested in getting more information and fit for oral appliances? Contact SleepWell, located in Lafayette, Louisiana. We are here to help you get past your breathing problems and have a peaceful, long sleep. No need to stress when you have your Lafayette sleep doctor here at SleepWell.

 

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Sources: 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20377636

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-apnea/treatment#:~:text=A%20breathing%20device%2C%20such%20as,you%20breathe%20while%20you%20sleep.