Oral Appliance Therapy vs. CPAP for Sleep Apnea

sleep disorder sleep apnea snoringIf you’re one of the approximately 18 million people that suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you might have already seen a doctor for treatment. OSA occurs when the soft tissues in the back of the throat obstruct breathing to prevent continuous airflow during sleep. “Apnea” means a cessation of breathing. This interruption in breathing causes the individual to partially awake repeatedly throughout the night, thus disrupting proper sleep cycles. The sufferer awakes feeling unrested.

Left untreated, sleep apnea can give way to other serious health issues, including depression, high blood pressure, irritability, sexual dysfunction, learning or memory problems, and falling asleep at inappropriate or dangerous times. Recent studies show resultant sleep deprivation from sleep apnea can lead to brain damage.

Sleep apnea has captured public awareness in recent years, fortunately, and science has devised effective measures to counteract this serious malady. Perhaps the most common solution for OSA is CPAP [continuous positive airway pressure.] CPAP devices are typically worn like breathing masks you might see on a patient at a hospital. The CPAP mask utilizes an air hose to direct constant airflow through the nose, preventing collapse of soft tissues so that breathing remains consistent. CPAP devices are very effective when used properly.

However, some people find CPAP masks uncomfortable. Current research suggests as many as 60% of users abandon the device within a few months of beginning treatment, mostly due to complaints of discomfort.

Dr. James Stewart, who is highly trained in sleep apnea, offers custom sleep masks, as well as alternatives to traditional CPAP treatment. One option is combination therapy, in which an oral appliance and CPAP are used to achieve optimal results. Dr. Stewart has studied combination therapy and can explain the details at your visit.

Oral appliance therapy is another alternative to CPAP. Oral appliances are worn in the mouth to keep the airway open during sleep. Studies show a higher percentage of users comply with oral appliance therapy than with CPAP. There are many brands and styles of oral sleep apnea appliances, and Dr. Stewart will advise you on the right one for your situation.

To find out which sleep apnea solution is best for you, schedule an appointment with Dr. Stewart to discuss your options. Doing so can be the first step to a dramatically improved—and better rested—life for you. Phone: (734) 425-4400