Do You Hate CPAP? – Some Good Alternatives

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Occasional snoring is common and not a problem. It’s chronic snoring that can be a big problem, and not just because it disturbs other sleepers nearby. It can be a sign that you have a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The word apnea means “lack of breathing”, and you would be unaware of it, but if you have OSA, you are waking many times during the night gasping for air.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

If you wake five times per hour after at least ten seconds of no breathing each time, you would officially be diagnosed with OSA. You would likely feel tired most days, perhaps depressed and irritable and you would be at increased risk for heart attack and stroke, with disturbances in your metabolic system and hormones.

The default treatment for OSA is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). Of the OSA sufferers who use CPAP, about one quarter have success with it. It consists of a bedside machine and a mask that you wear all night to connect your airway to it. It forces a constant pressure of air into your airway. This keeps the airway open and oxygen in the lungs and bloodstream. Without CPAP or an alternative treatment, the airway becomes blocked by collapsing tongue and throat tissue.

But most CPAP users have trouble following directions and wearing it all night. That is because the mask straps tend to chafe the skin, the machine makes noise, and the forced air can irritate the mouth and throat, even the nose and eyes.

CPAP Alternatives

Most of the alternatives are mouth appliances rather than masks attached to any machine. They are custom-made for your individual bite and teeth, and since they are categorized as “durable medical equipment”, they are covered by insurance.

1. SnoreFree

This CPAP alternative is probably the simplest, as it is all in one piece and your dentist can fit it for you. It works by keeping the tongue in a forward position as you sleep, preventing it from collapsing back into the airway area. Most people find it easy to use.

2. Tongue-Retaining Device (TRD)

The TRD also works by keeping the tongue forward. It uses negative vacuum pressure to hold the tongue in a bulb-shaped area at the front.

3. SomnoDent® Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS)

The SomnoDent MAS holds the entire jaw forward rather than just the tongue. This prevents the tissue at the back of the throat from collapsing during sleep. There is an adjusting mechanism that sets the device at a position most comfortable for you but also effective. You can open and close your mouth and even speak and drink while you are wearing it.

4. Herbst Telescopic Appliance

This CPAP alternative is held in place by the teeth. It is custom-made to fit exactly over your teeth, with one half of it over the upper teeth and the other half over the lower teeth. The two halves are connected on each side of the mouth. It allows you to open your mouth and to move the jaw sideways.

There are a great many other CPAP alternatives, most of which hold the jaw forward rather than the tongue. Your sleep apnea dentist can suggest the best options for you after he or she does a thorough dental and bite examination.

If you are in the San Diego, California area, please contact cosmetic and general dentist Dr. James Loye for a personal consultation.



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