Oral Appliance Therapy is a sleep apnea treatment that uses a mouth guard-like device to open up your airways so they are unobstructed during sleep. It is a comfortable and effective treatment for mild-to-moderate sleep apnea, and has been recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as an excellent alternative to a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine.
Dr. Bhave delivers effective sleep apnea treatment by providing custom-fitted oral appliances to our patients.
Issues with CPAP
The use of a CPAP machine has been a standard treatment for people suffering from sleep apnea. The CPAP machine opens up your airways by providing a steady flow of air through a mask that is placed over your nose and mouth.
A CPAP is effective, but only about 50% of patients typically use it because it is uncomfortable to wear and creates noise from its electric motor. A CPAP is also difficult to travel with, as it is a bulky unit that needs its own carrying case.
Our doctors can provide a simple, effective alternative to the CPAP machine using oral appliances. They are both specially trained and experienced in Oral Appliance Therapy.
Oral Appliance Therapy Details
If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, our doctors can provide you with a custom-fitted oral appliance, similar to a mouth guard. The appliance consists of two trays that are connected together and fit over your upper and lower teeth.
While wearing the trays, the lower jaw is comfortably repositioned slightly forward and down. This keeps your airway open and significantly improves your breathing while you sleep.
Studies of Oral Appliance Therapy show a very high success rate in patients who suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea. Patients find it much more comfortable to use than a CPAP machine and very convenient for travel.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea (from the Greek apnous, meaning “without breath”) is a sleep disorder which causes a person to stop breathing while sleeping, often many times during the night. Symptoms include heavy snoring during sleep and tiredness during waking hours.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax too much during sleep and cause the lower jaw to fall backward. This collapses the airway and severely hinders or interrupts breathing completely.
Each interruption can last anywhere from a few seconds to over a minute. The frequency of occurrence can range from a few times per hour to hundreds of times in one night.
These constant interruptions during sleep are very disruptive and will result in varying degrees of feeling tired, irritable or mentally foggy when awake. More extreme levels of sleep apnea can result in severe sleep deprivation while simultaneously increasing risk for other serious issues such as heart problems, liver problems, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Typical symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Snoring, gasping or choking during sleep
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
- Restless sleep
- Morning headaches
- Daytime sleepiness, regardless of how many hours you were in bed
- Irritability or trouble concentrating
- Memory Loss
- Decreased sex drive
Testing for Sleep Apnea
As needed, the doctor will conduct appropriate testing to find out if you are suffering from sleep apnea, as well as how severely it is affecting you. This could include your answering sleep surveys or having your airways inspected with high-tech measuring devices.
The doctor may also recommend that you participate in a formal sleep study. During this test, you wear a small monitoring device during sleep that tracks your breathing patterns as well as your heart, lung and brain activity. The doctor will let you know if these additional tests are recommended after a comprehensive exam and consultation.