CPAP Machine Alternatives for Sleep Apnea from the Beacon Dental Sleep Medicine Clinic
If you find that you breathe irregularly as you sleep, wake up gasping for breath, or feel excessively sleepy during the day, you may be experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea.
OSA causes symptoms like:
- gasping for breath during sleep
- waking up many times during the night
Along with making you sleepy the next day, OSA can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and depression.
If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, your healthcare provider may prescribe a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for treatment. A CPAP machine delivers pressurised air as you sleep to ensure your airway stays open.
CPAP machines can improve sleep and mood, and lower blood pressure and other heart disease risks. Despite its effectiveness, more than one-third of people who try CPAP don’t stick with it.
Common reasons for not continuing with a CPAP machine is that the device is clunky, uncomfortable, or noisy. In some cases, it doesn’t help with OSA symptoms.
Though CPAP therapy is the most commonly recommended treatment, there are other options that people with sleep apnea can discuss with their doctor. Potential alternatives to CPAP therapy include dental devices, lifestyle changes, and, surgery.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea from the Beacon Dental Sleep Medicine Clinic
What is Dental Sleep Medicine?
Dental Sleep Medicine is an area of clinical expertise that focuses on the management of sleep-related breathing disorders, including snoring, noisy disturbed sleep, sleep apnea, CPAP intolerance, and sleep bruxism (teeth grinding), with the design and fitting of customised oral/dental appliances.
What is Oral Appliance Therapy?
An oral appliance is a device worn in the mouth only during sleep. The device fits similarly to a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer and prevents the airway from collapsing by either supporting the tongue or jaw in a forward position, thereby opening the airway.
An oral appliance is a less cumbersome alternative to CPAP.
These devices move your lower jaw forward or hold your tongue in place. This helps prevent your tongue and the tissues of your upper airway from collapsing and blocking your airway while you sleep.
Oral appliances work best for people with mild to moderate OSA. They’re most effective when custom-fitted to you. Poorly fitting devices can cause jaw problems and may actually make sleep apnea worse.
A specialised dentist can fit you for the device and follow up with you to make sure that it’s helping your OSA.
As director of the Beacon Dental Group Dr. Edward G Owens is a hospital-affiliated Prosthodontist. He has been working successfully with oral appliances to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea since 1997 with both men & women.
He collaborates with major hospital sleep disorder clinics and has been active in the management of oral sleep appliances and the development of Dental Sleep Medicine in Ireland.
View the video below to hear a testimonial from one of our satisfied clients:
Weight Loss and Exercise
Obesity is a risk factor for OSA, but the relationship between weight and sleep apnea is complex. It is important to consult with a medical professional when considering weight loss to treat symptoms of sleep apnea.
Research shows that losing excess weight can reduce the severity of OSA symptoms. A combination of a change in diet and moderate exercise may be recommended. However, weight loss alone cannot completely eliminate OSA.
People who lose weight and change their sleeping positions see better results than those who only lose weight.
Sleeping in a supine position, or back sleeping can increase the number of apnea episodes a person has in a night. In this sleep position, the tongue and larynx can obstruct breathing. One study found that nearly 62% of people with OSA have supine-predominant sleep apnea.
Instead of back sleeping, experts recommend side sleeping to reduce the impacts of OSA. Studies have shown that patients who wear devices that alert them when they are on their backs have fewer apnea events. However, adherence to the use of these devices is an issue, and the technology itself needs improvement.
If devices and lifestyle changes haven’t improved your nighttime breathing, you might need surgery. Your doctor may recommend one of the following procedures, depending on the underlying problem that’s causing your OSA.
- Genioglossus advancement. With this procedure, the surgeon cuts your lower jaw bone to move your tongue forward. The result holds your tongue in place so it doesn’t cover your airway.
- Hypoglossal nerve stimulation. A device is implanted in your chest and connected to the hypoglossal nerve to control tongue movement. An attached sensor monitors your breathing while you sleep. If you stop breathing, the sensor stimulates the hypoglossal nerve to move your tongue out of your airway.
- Jaw surgery. This type of surgery, referred to as maxillomandibular advancement, moves your upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible) forward to create more space for you to breathe.
- Nasal surgery. Surgery can remove polyps or fix a deviated septum if one of these prevents you from breathing easily through your nose.
- Soft palate implants. This less invasive option, also known as the pillar procedure, implants three small rods in the roof of your mouth. The implants prop up your soft palate to prevent it from collapsing over your upper airway.
- Tongue reduction surgery. If you have a large tongue that blocks your airway, surgery can make it smaller.
- Tonsil and adenoid removal. Your tonsils and adenoids sit in the back of your throat. If they’re so large that they block your airway, you may need to have them removed.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP or UP3). A common surgical treatment for OSA, this procedure removes extra tissue from the back of your mouth and the top of your throat to let more air into your airway. An alternative is uvulectomy, which removes all or part of the uvula, which is the teardrop-shaped tissue that hangs down at the back of your throat.
Alcohol use can worsen OSA symptoms in many people. The American Academy of Sleep recommends avoiding alcohol as one of the first steps in treating OSA, along with losing excess weight and changing sleep position.
These other simple changes to your routine could help you sleep better at night:
- Exercise often. Regular aerobic activity can help you lose the extra weight that makes it hard to breathe. Exercise can also help reduce the severity of sleep apnea.
- Relieve congestion. Take a nasal decongestant or antihistamine to help open up your nasal passages if they’re clogged.
- Don’t smoke. In addition to its other harmful effects on your health, cigarette smoking worsens OSA by increasing airway swelling.
At the Beacon Dental Sleep Medicine Clinic, we have a fast, easy, and accurate way to scan patients for intraoral devices. Sleep quality is critical to the health and general well-being, leading to a better quality of life for many people suffering from a range of sleep disorders.
For appliance therapy to be effective, a bespoke individualised device should be comfortable to wear and precise in its intraoral fit.
3Shape TRIOS digital scanner allows documented full-arch scanning accuracy and automatic bite registration, improving appliance fit and efficacy.
Talk to the Beacon Dental Sleep Medicine Clinic about an Oral Appliance as an alternative to CPAP treatment which may be more appropriate for you.
For further information on Sleep Apnoea Treatment, contact us today
Beacon Dental Sleep Medicine Clinic is based in the Beacon Dental Clinic, Beacon Consultants Clinic, Dublin, D18 E7P4, Ireland
Tel: ++353 1 213 5644 | Fax: +353 1 213 5645 | Email: email@example.com