Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that causes pauses in breathing multiple times a night. As a result, people with sleep apnea are usually sleepy, fatigued, have intense headaches, can’t concentrate, and are easily irritated during the day.
Fortunately, sleep apnea is not hard to diagnose, and it’s easily treatable. Oral appliances and CPAP machines are the most commonly recommended treatment for sleep apnea. Both treatment options open obstructed airways, alleviate the symptoms, and significantly improve patients’ quality of life.
CPAP therapy is widely recommended for sleep apnea treatment by sleep specialists and doctors. However, although effective, CPAP therapy does not work for everyone. When a patient doesn’t take continuous positive airway pressure therapy well, a dentist specializing in sleep apnea therapy may recommend an oral appliance.
Continue reading to learn more about the differences between CPAP machines and dental appliances for treating sleep apnea and how to choose the right option for your case.
Differences between Oral Appliances and CPAP Machines
CPAP machines and oral appliances effectively treat obstructive sleep apnea, but they differ in function and nature. Let’s take a look at some of the key differences.
Which is Better a CPAP Machine or Oral Appliance?
It depends on the severity of your sleep apnea. If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea or if you have issues with the CPAP, an oral appliance might be better. But if you have severe sleep apnea the CPAP is still one of the best choices.
A CPAP machine works by using a tube and mask over the nose and mouth to force air through the obstructed airway. While this is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, many patients don’t want to use CPAP machines due to the discomfort and noise the device creates.
The machine is typically large and comes with several adapters and cords. The mouthpiece can be very uncomfortable, and if you are a light sleeper, the noise coming from the machine may make it difficult to fall asleep with it in the first place.
Sleep apnea specialists typically recommend oral appliances as the first line of therapy for subjects with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Sleep apnea oral appliances, also known as mandibular advancement devices (MADs), work by gently pushing the jaw forward, and that way, maintaining an open airway during sleep. These dental appliances look like mouthguards. They are custom made by your sleep apnea dentist, and they are easy to adjust to and sleep with at night.
Most people with sleep apnea prefer a custom-made dental device instead of a CPAP machine because it’s comfortable, affordable, easy to maintain, and travel with. Unlike CPAP machines, sleep apnea dental devices don’t require electricity, and they don’t produce any noise.
If your jaw cannot be repositioned forward for some reason, your dentist may recommend a less optimal solution using a tongue-retaining device (TRDs). TRDs open up your airway by gently pulling the tongue forward.
How to Choose the Best Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
The best treatment for sleep apnea depends on the cause of the problem, the severity of your case, the physical structure of your upper airway, and other medical conditions you may have. CPAP machines and oral devices are both effective and come with their pros and cons. Your doctor or sleep specialist knows how to select the best treatment option for you, and your dentist can also be a partner in finding and providing the best solution for your sleep apnea case.
If you don’t take CPAP therapy well and have mild-to-moderate OSA, custom-made mouth devices such as MADs or TRDs can help to alleviate your symptoms, breathe normally, and get a full night’s rest. Call the dental office of Jeremy J. Abbott, DDS, today to make an appointment and discuss your best options.