While CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is the most common treatment for sleep apnea, it does not work for everyone. Those who use CPAP tend to encounter discomfort with the device’s mouth and nose pieces, along with difficulty changing sleep positions comfortably. Fortunately, there is an alternative to CPAP that works for most patients. Custom oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for many people with sleep apnea and is approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for the treatment of sleep apnea and snoring. Oral appliance therapy involves wearing a custom made, mouthguard- like retainer while you sleep that positions the lower jaw forward to open the airway. This allows you to breathe and sleep better at night. Most people strongly prefer this over CPAP. Custom oral appliance therapy is covered by most medical insurances. Only Dentists who have specialized training can provide custom oral appliance therapy. Other treatments for sleep apnea include a combination of custom oral appliance therapy with CPAP or surgery.
Dr. Vandervelden Wearing His Custom Oral Appliance
When compared to CPAP, many patients enjoy oral appliance therapy because it is comfortable. With oral appliance therapy, there are no masks to wear or hoses to obstruct movement during sleep. Unlike CPAP, oral appliances are not pieces of machinery and therefore do not emit sounds that might disturb a sleeper.
Oral appliance therapy also offers convenient benefits. First, an oral appliance is easier to clean than a CPAP. Cleaning a CPAP’s masks and hoses can be cumbersome. Cleaning an oral appliance, on the other hand, involves a quick rinse with warm water, a soft toothbrush and a little mild soap. Since oral appliances are small and portable, they are easier to travel with than a CPAP machine.
Another issue some patients have with CPAP is the fact that the stream of air emitted by the machine contributes to dry mouth and chapped lips. Patients who struggle with dry mouth and chapped lips see an improvement in these symptoms after switching to oral appliance therapy.
Finding an effective treatment for sleep apnea can make a world of difference in your energy levels and well-being. When treating sleep apnea with an oral appliance, you will likely notice an increase in energy and improved mood. This is because the oral appliance is helping you breathe better while you sleep allowing you to get the rest your body needs. Improving your quality of sleep often decreases irritability and depressive thoughts. Since memory loss and difficulty concentrating are common symptoms of sleep apnea, getting proper rest through treatment can make a big difference in improving your cognition.
The types of devices you can order online can cause permanent damage to your teeth because they are not properly fitted to your mouth. The devices you can order online can also cause chronic pain and damage in your jaw joint and cause permanent bite changes that can make chewing difficult or painful. Dr. Vandervelden is highly trained and skilled in oral appliance therapy and his expertise drastically decreases the risk of these problems. Dr. Vanderelden works with board-certified sleep physicians who use home sleep tests throughout your therapy to be sure you are getting the most out of your custom oral appliance. The custom oral appliance can be adjusted as needed for maximum benefit. In summary, if you order a device online you have no way of knowing if it is adequately treating your sleep apnea and it may cause permanent damage and chronic pain.
When thinking about whether to pursue sleep apnea treatment, it is important to remember that untreated sleep apnea can have serious health consequences including stroke, high blood pressure, early-onset dementia, and obesity to name a few.
All of this can be confusing and overwhelming. Dr. Vandervelden partners with board-certified sleep physicians to help determine what is best for you.
If you are struggling with your CPAP and would like to see if custom oral appliance therapy could work for you, schedule a free consultation with Dr. Vandervelden.