Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by a certain number of pauses during the breathing cycle. If severe, the complications can be serious, causing cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and sometimes death. Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most common forms, and generally occurs from blockages in the airway, including, relaxed throat muscles, blocked nasal passages, and the position of the jaw.
Traditional Treatment: CPAP
The standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure, otherwise known as CPAP. By delivering mild air pressure into the body, CPAP treatment keeps airways open, and ensures breathing doesn’t stop. Statistically, CPAP has proven to be an effective treatment for sleep apnea. The problem is that a little less than half of patients treated with it stop using within the first three weeks, rendering the treatment completely ineffective.
Why Do Patients Stop Using Their CPAP?
Usually, the rationale behind stopping CPAP treatment is comfort. The machine resembles a vacuum, big, obtrusive, and loud, often making it incredibly difficult for patients to sleep. To use, patients need a place to set the machine, need an outlet, and must sleep with a mask over their face.
Generally, there are three main complaints patients have:
Since the mask must be secured to a patient’s face, using the machine can cause claustrophobia. The mask can easily become hot and damp, creating the sensation of being underwater.
- CPAP makes it difficult to sleep
One of the main symptoms of sleep apnea is fatigue, so it’s ironic that CPAP can actually worsen fatigue. But because of the discomfort, noise, and limited sleep positions available while wearing the mask, often patients will find sleep difficult to manage.
- CPAP and travel don’t mix
Because CPAP machines are bulky, require regular cleaning and power, and are loud enough to disturb a sleep partner, they’re difficult to travel with. And, to be honest, with baggages costs climbing, who wants to check a second bag at the airport?
But there is good news. There are several alternative treatments for CPAP that can be provided by your dentist. Oral sleep appliances are devices that are specifically designed to keep airways open by preventing the jaw from collapsing during sleep, and positioning the tongue away from the throat. Because these are custom designed for patients, they are comfortable, non-invasive, and soundless options for those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. And, bonus, they don’t require a suitcase–they can fit in your pocket!
If you’re tired of CPAP and are seeking an alternative treatment, the time to schedule an appointment is now. For a dentist in Valdosta, GA, please call (229) 242-5511 or email for an appointment with Dr. Nelson Clements.