There are several different ways to treat sleep apnea. The treatment you receive will depend on the type of sleep apnea you are diagnosed with, the severity of your condition, as well as any type of other conditions such as TMD or bruxism that you may be suffering from. The first line of recommended treatment for mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea is the use of a specially designed oral sleep apnea appliance that is meant to advance your lower jaw (or mandible), thereby advancing your tongue and opening your throat, which makes it more difficult for the airway to become blocked while you breathe in your. These oral appliances require the help of a sleep dentist, such as Dr. Berry, to be properly fitted.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
The most widely used sleep apnea treatment method is the CPAP machine. The machine used while you sleep. You hook yourself up to the machine with a mask that is connected by an air hose. The hose and mask provide a steady flow of pressurized air from the CPAP machine. Though this is a very common sleep apnea treatment, many of the patients who use one often complain of (among other things) the noise of the machine and discomfort of the mask at night. While the CPAP machine definitely works and is considered the “gold standard” of treatment for sleep apnea, a lot of patients are unable to sleep properly because of it. You may be one of many Denver sleep apnea patients in search of a CPAP alternative.
CPAP Alternative: Oral Sleep Apnea Appliance Therapy
There is an alternative to CPAP called Oral Appliance Therapy or OAT for short. Oral sleep apnea appliances have been somewhat slow to catch on, but are now recognized by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as the best alternative treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. These appliances, by and large, work by moving the lower jaw forward, and are therefore also known as Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS). By moving the lower jaw forward, the soft tissues of the throat, chiefly the tongue, are also moved forward, opening up the airway. The amount of advancement required to open the airway will vary from patient to patient, which is why it is so critical that you see a sleep dentist who can custom fit you with an oral sleep apnea appliance. We utilize iTero digital scanning impressions, so we can make your custom appliance without having to bite down into a tray of goop.
There are all sorts of over-the-counter anti-snoring devices available in the stores and online, but these are dangerous! Why dangerous? Because while they may stop the snoring, they aren’t certain to open up the airway enough to actually stop the apnea events, so while you may be sleeping silently, you may still be suffocating in your sleep!
Oral Sleep Apnea Appliance Co-Therapy With CPAP
Because of the undeniable improvement in sleep apnea patients when CPAP is tolerated, and because some patients have severe apnea that can’t be properly treated by oral sleep apnea appliance alone, companies who specialize in manufacturing oral appliances are starting to create new appliances that make CPAP much more comfortable for patients to use. The primary example of such a sleep apnea appliance is the TAP-PAP by AMI, inc. The TAP-PAP focuses the air in the nasal passages using “nasal pillows”, and the mandibular advancement of the oral appliance also allows the air to flow more freely. This technology allows for lower pressure settings to be used on the CPAP machine, which makes it more comfortable. There are also no straps required, which are frequently a source of aggravation for CPAP users.
Don’t Wait Anymore – Get Fitted ASAP!
If you live in Denver, or some other part of Colorado and you suffer from sleep apnea, consult sleep dentist, Dr. Kevin Berry, to be properly fitted with an oral sleep apnea appliance. You can count on Dr. Berry to provide you with an appliance that is perfectly suitable for you. Dr. Berry knows that treating sleep apnea varies person to person and that no patient is exactly like a previous case. With this in mind, Dr. Berry will look at the differences between the sleep apnea devices to pick the one that allows you to sleep safely at night.
During your first appointment at our Denver, Colorado office, Dr. Berry will discuss the process of sleep apnea diagnosis and the treatment that will follow if you are indeed a sleep apneic. To set up a consultation, call Dr. Berry’s office at (303) 691-0267. For your convenience, you can also make an appointment using our online form. Feel free to email us with any questions.