Whether it’s the snoring and gasping or the tossing and turning, when you suffer from sleep apnea, it keeps you from resting well and feeling good. At Doueck Dental & Sleep Medicine, our team of specialists understands the difficulties sleep apnea cause both in the bedroom and out of it.
Although many doctors go straight to recommending a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, we don’t. While CPAPs effectively treat the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, they’re not always the best option.
In many cases, oral appliances (small devices you wear in your mouth) can treat your sleep apnea symptoms just as effectively as a CPAP machine and with much less hassle. Here’s why:
Oral appliances stay in place better than CPAP masks
CPAP machines use masks that cover either your nose or your nose and mouth, straps that hold the mask in place, and a motor that blows a continuous stream of air into your lungs, keeping your airways open.
An oral appliance, on the other hand, consists of two small devices that look like mouthguards or retainers. They’re held together by a small hinge and snap onto your lower and upper gums. This device either moves the jaw forward and into an alignment that keeps your airways open, or it uses a splint to keep the tongue from blocking your airway.
Due to how they’re designed, oral devices tend to be more comfortable than CPAP machines. The device is more likely to stay in place and cause fewer sleep disturbances.
Oral appliances travel easily
If you’ve never seen a CPAP, it’s more than just a mask and straps. A tube attaches the mask to a machine, which holds the motor and pushes the air. While the machines are smaller now than in the past, they’re not always easily portable.
Oral appliances, though, are small enough to put in your pocket and take with you to a hotel. They’re not only easily portable, but they’re also quiet, silent in fact, unlike the constant hum of a CPAP machine.
Since they don’t make noise, oral devices make travel easy on those you’re traveling with, too. Those sharing your sleeping space don’t have to listen to the CPAP machine all night, nor do they have to listen to you snore.
Oral appliances are simple to care for
When you have a CPAP machine, it requires daily care. Each morning when you wake up, you have to clean your mask with soap and warm water and dry it with a towel. Once a week, wash the CPAP tube in your shower, letting the water run through it. Wash or change the machine’s filter once a month.
Oral appliances require little care. Clean them as you do your teeth, brushing gently with a toothbrush and nonabrasive toothpaste. Rinse in cool water and dry the appliance before storing it.
If it’s really dirty, clean it in a gentle appliance soak for no more than 15 minutes. Never use mouthwash, over-the-counter effervescent denture cleaner, or alcohol to clean your oral appliance.
Try an oral appliance first
With more than 100 oral appliances approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try one of these custom-fit sleep apnea devices before opting for a CPAP machine. Oral devices are easier to use, travel with, and clean. And because of all that, you’re more likely to use an oral appliance than you would a CPAP machine, which is reason enough to give one a try.