Do Oral Appliances Really Work for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common yet serious sleep disorder, and the first type of recommended treatment is usually a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. But many patients find it uncomfortable and stop using it, putting their health in jeopardy. Oral appliances are an effective alternative in many cases, offering an easier, more comfortable way to treat sleep apnea.
In this blog, the sleep specialists at eos sleep in NYC explain more about oral appliances while answering the most important question: Do they really work?
What are oral appliances?
Oral appliances are custom-made plastic devices used to treat snoring and sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that’s characterized by repeated pauses in breathing. They’re created from a mold your doctor makes of your teeth and mouth, so they’re designed to fit well and address your specific issues. They’re worn only at night and are similar to mouth guards or orthodontic retainers.
How do they work?
This type of treatment is usually most effective if you have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a partially blocked airway.
Oral appliances gently move your lower jaw and tongue slightly forward as you sleep. This increases the size of your airway by preventing your throat muscles from blocking it. As a result, air resistance is reduced while you’re sleeping, and by allowing breathing to be more normal, it reduces snoring and sleep apnea.
Who makes a good candidate for using one?
A good candidate for an oral appliance is someone who has been diagnosed with sleep apnea through a sleep study. This overnight study measures and makes a record of exactly what happens to your body as your sleep, including your breathing rate, heart rate, oxygen levels, and movements.
After a diagnosis of sleep apnea is made, your doctor will talk to you about possible treatments. A CPAP machine is often the first type of recommended treatment, but many patients find this machine difficult to use. It consists of a machine that attaches to tubing and a mask that fits over your nose and/or mouth, which can be uncomfortable for many patients.
Although CPAP can often be very effective, many people use it only sporadically or stop using it completely. This allows their chronic snoring and sleep apnea to continue, along with symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and a reduced ability to concentrate. In addition, untreated sleep apnea can raise your risk of developing chronic health issues such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
What are the benefits of using an oral appliance?
An oral appliance provides the following benefits:
Effective – starting on the first night for most patients
Better compliance – when compared to other treatments such as CPAP
Comfortable – custom-made and comfortable for most people after a short adjustment period
Easily portable – small enough to fit in your pocket or purse
Easy to clean – much simpler to clean than the hoses and mask associated with CPAP
If you’re experiencing chronic snoring or have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, make an appointment today with eos sleep in NYC. Our experienced sleep doctors offer home sleep studies for your convenience and also provide the most effective sleep apnea treatments, including oral appliances, CPAP, minimally invasive procedures, and surgeries. We’re dedicated to helping you improve the quality of your sleep as well as your overall health!