Sleep Apnea is a troublesome condition. It interrupts your rest, makes you feel miserable, and ultimately threatens your life.
And you aren’t the only one affected by it. Your sleep partner wakes up to your snoring and lies there counting the seconds until you breath again. Your job suffers because you are sleepy all day long.
Sleep loss affects every aspect of your life. Once you have a diagnosis and a prescription, you can start to regain your life, but which option will you choose!
Types of Treatments for Sleep Apnea
Since the 1980’s, the gold standard of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea has been the Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) unit. A mask or nose pillow is worn on the face and attached to a machine that blows air through the air passage to keep it open.
The unit can increase or decrease pressure at your doctor’s prescription, depending on your needs. While earlier units were just air, newer models come with an attached humidifier to keep your mouth and soft tissues from drying out overnight.
The newest contender for sleep apnea treatment is a dental appliance that you wear at night. This appliance, or mandibular advancement splint (MAS) is not the kind of mouthguard you find at a drugstore. The MAS is custom made to fit your teeth and bite. It works differently than the CPAP unit, keeping the airway open through manipulation of the jaw position instead of through air pressure. As such, it’s a more natural solution and no bulky or loud equipment is needed!
Which Option Is Right For Me?
When you talk with your sleep doctor, discuss the treatment options available to you. They each have pros and cons depending on the severity of your diagnosis:
CPAP, for instance, is a proven treatment. The air pressure can be adjusted and there are many different kinds of masks and nose pillows to choose from. But it makes noise at night, which some find objectionable (like your spouse or kids in the next room.) Parts wear out and require replacement. Without the humidifier, it can be rather drying. It’s also bulky and fragile for travel, which will require extra adapters and cords if you leave the country. Patients sometimes stop using their CPAP because they find it uncomfortable or inconvenient.
Mandibular advancement devices (an oral appliance made by your dentist) is also a proven treatment, but for mild to moderate cases and for people with a BMI less than 35. It is comfortable, compact, and extremely portable. You’ll need to have your device checked periodically for excess wear, but Dr. Agullo can do that at your regular six-month check up. Studies have shown that even patients with severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate a CPAP respond quite well to a sleep device.
If you and your sleep physician feel that an oral appliance is your best option, bring your prescription to Dr. Agarwal at Raleigh Dental Arts. We will fit you for your new device and show you how to get started. You’ll have the best fit and highest quality sleep appliance possible. Call us today to find out how we can help you!