When given a choice for treating obstructive sleep apnea, many people hate the idea of using a mask attached to a hose every night. Fortunately, there are a number of good alternatives.
Mandibular advancement devices (also called oral appliances) for obstructive sleep apnea come in various models, but they all have one thing in common: The lower jaw is pushed forward against the upper jaw, moving your tongue forward, opening up your airway. Different models have different bells and whistles, and all have their pros and cons. This is why it’s important for a dentist to be experienced with a number for different models, since everyone has different needs.
Continuing on my love/hate themes for various treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea, in this post I’m going to describe 7 reasons why I think dental appliances are a great alternative to CPAP for obstructive sleep apnea.
1. No headgear or straps around your face. Most oral appliances fit completely inside the mouth.
2. It’s silent. Because it’s not a pump, it’s completely silent.
3. It’s small and convenient. It’s also easy to take with you on trips, compared to CPAP machines.
4. Compared to even a few years ago, more dentists are available to make these devices, and are usually covered through most major insurances.
5. Recent studies have shown that oral appliances are equivalent to CPAP for people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has stated that oral appliances can be considered a first line treatment option in addition to CPAP.
6. An oral appliance can be made as a holder for CPAP using a nasal pillow-type mask. This way, there are no straps or headgear for CPAP. The appliance can be set at a neutral position just to hold the CPAP in place, or it can used as an advancement device in addition to allowing for nasal pillows.
7. It can be used effectively for snoring, even if you don’t have obstructive sleep apnea.
Oral appliances are very helpful for many patients in my practice. However, these devices do have some drawbacks. For my next post, I will give 5 reasons why I don’t like oral appliances.
If you are successful at using an oral appliance to treat your sleep apnea, how did it compare to using CPAP? How were the different options explained to you by your sleep physician? What was your experience like getting the device made by your dentist? Please describe your experiences below.