Treatment Choices for Sleep Apnea Patients

If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea you probably weren’t given a choice of treatments. In most cases obstructive sleep apnea is initially treated using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. But there is another option – an oral appliance created by a dentist with training in dental sleep medicine.  The choice of which device will be used is usually made by your sleep physician but only a dentist can fit a custom oral appliance. Does the patient have a choice?Rothfus Family Dental offers snoring and sleep apnea treatment.

The answer is yes. Most patients who are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea are initially fitted for a CPAP machine. These machines keep the patients airway open during sleep by pushing pressurized air through a mask and hose. CPAP is considered the gold standard of sleep apnea therapy but  about half of the patients who try CPAP therapy cannot tolerate sleeping with the machine. Patients are considered “compliant” with their CPAP if they only use it 4 hours each night. That leaves a lot of sleeping time during which obstructive sleep apnea is not being treated.

Researchers have shown a much higher rate of compliance among patients who use oral appliances. These custom devices look similar to a sports mouthguard or orthodontic retainer and keep the airway open at night by either pushing the jaw forward, called a mandibular advancement device, or by keeping the tongue from falling back with a retaining device. The most popular and commonly used device is the mandibular advancement device. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has approved the use of oral appliances to treat mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea and in more severe cases when the patient is CPAP intolerant.

Oral appliances are also highly effective at stopping snoring in those patients who snore loudly but do not have sleep apnea. Snoring can be a huge issue for couples because the bed partner of the person who snores becomes severely sleep deprived causing moodiness, weakened immune system and high blood pressure.

To find out if an oral appliance might be right for treating your snoring or obstructive sleep apnea please contact Rothfus Family Dental in Medford, OR today at 541-858-7994 to schedule your consultation. You and your spouse can both get a good night of restful sleep!