There are several options for treating snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The most common is the CPAP, however it has a poor level of compliance. In 2006, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, deemed dental devices as a viable and effective option in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Which Treatment is Best for You?
Choosing the best treatment starts with a conversation. Visit Carolina Sleep Solutions for a free screening and consultation. Once you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, Dr. Van Gurp can help you choose which treatment will be most effective.
Dental Sleep Device
There are numerous dental sleep devices approved by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration).
A Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) is the most common type of dental sleep device for treating OSA. This type of oral appliance is similar to a mouth guard and works by positioning the lower jaw and tongue to keep the airway open.
Another type of dental sleep device is a Tongue Retaining Devices (TRD). As the name implies, this type of device moves the tongue forward to prevent obstruction of the airway.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
The most common treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea is called CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.
Developed in the 1980’s, CPAP consists of an air pump, a hose and a face mask or nasal pillow. The CPAP blows compressed air at a prescribed pressure into the airway acting as a pneumatic splint – similar to blowing up a balloon. The pressure of the air actually opens the airway. The amount of pressure needed to open the airway varies with the degree of apnea and is prescribed by a sleep physician.
CPAP is very effective in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Unfortunately, despite efforts to improve mask and machine technology, compliance remains poor. Studies show that it is not uncommon for users to either completely abandon the use of CPAP or if they do use it, they do so on a limited basis.
Reasons for non-compliance include:
- Mask leaks
- Discomfort or interrupted sleep due to the cumbersomeness of the machine and mask.
- Noise from the machine disturbing sleep or bed partner’s sleep
- CPAP restricted movements during sleep
- Claustrophobic associations and an unconscious need to remove the mask at night.
Surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
There are many surgical options to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Most surgeries are performed by Ear Nose & Throat physicians and Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons.
Surgeries usually help but seldom cure the problem. In addition, there are risks associated with surgery and should be discussed with your surgeon.
It is not uncommon to first approach the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea conservatively such as with a dental sleep device and then consider the surgical option later.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve OSA Symptoms
It is not uncommon for Obstructive Sleep Apnea to be worse when one is lying on their back than when they are lying on their side. When this is the case, sometimes a patient can employ what is called Positional Therapy, which encourages the patient to sleep on their side.
There are various devices that are simple and can work in this case. One example is sewing a few tennis balls in the back of a t-shirt worn at night. These methods can help reduce the severity of Obstructive Sleep Apnea but rarely does it serve as a cure.
It is best first to consult with your physician and ask him / her if positional therapy can be used in conjunction with other therapies.
Easy to say, not always so easy to do. Weight loss can help decrease the severity of snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea, but it is rarely a cure. Discuss the effects of weight loss with your physician.