You’re not alone if you tried using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and gave up because of intolerable side effects. Nearly half of all sleep apnea patients stop using the device after the first month.
CPAP is typically the first therapy prescribed for sleep apnea, often called the gold standard of treatment. But the gold standard doesn’t do any good if you can’t endure the treatment.
If you can’t use CPAP, you can still treat sleep apnea without compromising on results. Studies show that professional oral appliances produce the same results as CPAP, and they’re superior to CPAP when it comes to your quality of life.
The team of family dentists at Litchfield Dental Care in Litchfield Park, Arizona, has helped many patients overcome sleep apnea with customized oral appliances. Here, they explain why your health depends on treating sleep apnea and how oral appliances work.
Sleep apnea occurs when your tongue and other soft tissues relax in your airway. Snoring begins when these tissues partially cover the airway. (Loud snoring is a hallmark symptom in everyone with sleep apnea, and it’s likely that your family is aware of it even if you aren’t.) You stop breathing when the airway is totally blocked.
If you have this condition, you may be surprised to learn how often you stop breathing, even with mild sleep apnea:
Without treatment, sleep apnea causes serious health problems, such as:
Your body stores memories, eliminates toxic waste, repairs cells, restores energy and performs other crucial processes while you sleep. Every time you stop breathing, it disrupts your sleep and your body’s essential recovery and healing functions.
Disrupted sleep also leads to health problems like excessive daytime fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, weight gain, and depression.
Every time you stop breathing, your blood vessels tighten, blood flow drops, and your heart works harder than normal. When you breathe again, blood suddenly surges into your blood vessels before they can relax to accommodate the increased volume.
The stress to your heart and blood vessels increases your risk of developing:
The drop in oxygen when you stop breathing also triggers the release of inflammatory substances that cause chronic diseases.
If you have mild sleep apnea, you may be able to restore normal breathing by changing your sleep position and losing weight if needed. Excess fat is a major contributor to sleep apnea.
For moderate to severe sleep apnea, you have two basic treatment options: continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and an oral appliance.
CPAP requires you to wear a mask over your mouth, nose, or both. The mask connects to a machine that blows pressurized air into your throat, which holds your airway open.
However, side effects force many people to stop using the device. They often experience:
Though newer CPAP machines are supposed to be quiet, many make enough noise to interrupt your sleep.
An oral appliance has two pieces, called trays, that go over your upper and lower teeth. The upper and lower trays in the appliance used for sleep apnea — called a mandibular advancement device — are connected in a way that gently holds your lower jaw in a forward position.
Because your tongue connects to the jaw, holding the jaw forward while you sleep stops the soft tissues from falling over your airways. As a result, you regain a healthy, restorative sleep that’s no longer interrupted by sleep apnea.
We fully customize your appliance, ensuring the trays fit comfortably over your teeth and fine-tuning the connecting pieces to hold your jaw in the best position to prevent apneas.
Don’t wait to seek help for sleep apnea. Call Litchfield Dental Care today or book online to learn more about oral appliances.