Sleep Apnea Treatments

There are 3 major treatments for snoring and sleep apnea

  • Dental Appliances
  • CPAP
  • Surgery

Dental Appliance

Tucson Sleep Apnea Dental AppliancesOral Appliance Therapy refers to the use of a dental appliance, similar to an orthodontic retainer or an athletic mouthguard. The basic function of a dental oral appliance is to reposition the mandible in an increased vertical or open position as well as in a forward position. In which the oral appliance improves the patency of the upper airway by increasing muscle tones in the back of the throat preventing them from collapsing and obstructing the airway during sleep . Repositioning the mandible (1) prevents the tongue from collapsing into the airway and (2) stabilize the muscles that support the airway. Dentists with special training in Snoring, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Oral Appliance Therapy will carefully select, design, construct, and fit these special appliances to meet the specific anatomical, physiological and comfort needs of the sleep apnea patient. In recent clinical studies, physicians and dentists have shown that, in a majority of apnea patients, a properly selected, well-designed, well-fitted oral appliance can effectively reduce and sometimes even eliminate snoring, and significantly relieve symptoms of mild to moderate OSA.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) states that oral appliances are indicated as a first treatment of choice for patients with primary heavy snoring and/or mild obstructive sleep apnea and as a treatment option for patients with moderate or severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP.

Oral Appliance Therapy can also be useful in combination with CPAP when there are compliance issues with nasal CPAP alone, e.g. the treatment pressures can usually be lowered and made more tolerable. 

Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy

  • Oral appliances are comfortable and easy to wear. Most people find that it only takes a couple of weeks to become acclimated to wearing the appliance.
  • Oral appliances are small and convenient making them easy to carry when traveling.
  • Treatment with oral appliances is reversible and non-invasive
  • No external use of electricity or tubes
  • Fits comfortably into the mouth

What is CPAP

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) CPAP is a machine that uses a steady stream of air to gently keep your airway open throughout the night so you are able to breathe. You sleep with a mask with a hose that is attached to a machine kept at the bedside. Although, it has been stated that for those who have been prescribed CPAP machines, 50% are non-compliant after 3 months.

Reasons Why Patients Cannot Wear CPAP

  • Noise due to the air compressor prevents ability to sleep
  • Pressure is too high
  • Voice changes
  • Claustrophobia
  • Skin irritations from the mask
  • Eye irritations from air leakage
  • Throat dryness
  • Nose dryness
  • Headaches from head straps
  • Tinnitus (Ringing in the ears)
  • Sinus infections
  • Difficulty breathing out against the air being forced through the nose
  • Air in stomach
  • Dislike being attached to a machine
  • Nasal stuffiness

*Surgery for obstructive sleep apnea usually isn't done unless other treatments have failed or you are unable or choose not to use other treatments.