The dangers of obstructive sleep apnea have been universally recognized. The good news is that both snoring and sleep apnea are treatable.
Treatment options range from CPAP to convenient, comfortable and effective oral appliances.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral Appliances are placed in the mouth and are worn much like an orthodontic appliance or sports mouth protector. Worn during sleep to prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, oral appliances promote adequate air intake and help to provide normal sleep in people who snore and have sleep apnea.
Oral appliances can be used as the first-line therapy for patients who have been diagnosed with mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea, or severe obstructive sleep apnea that cannot tolerate their prescribed CPAP. They can also be used in conjunction with other therapies such as continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). Determination of proper therapy can only be made by joint consultation of your sleep physician and a qualified sleep medicine dentist.
CPAP (continuous positive air pressure applied through a nasal mask) is the most common and standard form of treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The CPAP machine consists of a face or nasal mask that is connected to a pump, providing a positive flow of air into the nasal passages in order to keep the airway open. This pressure ensures that the airway doesn’t collapse during sleep. CPAP is recommended as the first line of treatment for patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea. Patients with mild-to-moderate sleep apnea can usually choose which therapy they would prefer.
While not considered as the first line of treatment for snoring or sleep apnea, surgery may be an effective option for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP or oral appliance therapy. With many surgical options available, it is up to the surgeon to find where the obstruction is in the patient’s upper airway or nasal passage and determine what the best solution is. Surgery is typically more effective in the treatment of snoring than for sleep apnea.
Other Therapy Attempts
Many people’s first attempt at addressing health issues is to see if lifestyle adjustments will improve their condition. Snoring can sometimes be improved by losing weight, limiting smoking and alcohol intake, or avoiding sedatives. In some patients, snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are related to sleeping on one’s back. In these instances, improvements can be seen by sleeping on the side rather than the back.
Dr. Potter can help you determine the most effective sleep apnea treatment.
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