CPAP is an extremely effective therapy; however, nationally only 45% of patients using CPAP machines continue to use them.

The American Sleep Disorders Association is recommending dental appliance treatment for patients with severe OSA who are intolerant of, or refuse treatment with, CPAP.

 

What is a CPAP?

A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a machine that delivers lightly pressurized air through a hose to a small nose mask. The flow of the air acts like an “air splint” to keep the upper airway open and prevent apnea (i.e., shortness of breath). CPAP machines have 99% efficiency in restoring normal breathing during sleep. They have also undergone many improvements since an Australian invented the first one from a vacuum cleaner and a length of hose. However, the rate of patient compliance with CPAP is less than 50%.

Are There Alternatives to CPAP?

Yes! Thanks to advances in dental sleep medicine, qualified dentists can effectively treat many patients who suffer from snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, upper airway resistance syndrome and other sleep-disordered breathing problems using oral appliance therapy.

An oral sleep appliance is similar in appearance to an athletic mouthguard, and it is worn during sleep to maintain airway patency. Oral sleep appliances are safe, less expensive vs. CPAP or surgery, and easy to use. There are also few, if any, side effects. However, one size does not fit all.

There are currently six (6) different FDA-approved oral appliances we can use to treat sleep-disordered breathing. Regardless of the appliance selected, to be effective, it must be properly customized and precision fit for each patient.

For some patients, an oral sleep appliance can eliminate the need for CPAP or surgery. For patients with more severe sleep problems, an oral appliance can be an effective and convenient adjunct therapy.

At the present time, obstructive sleep apnea is defined as a medical problem and the diagnosis must be made by a medical doctor or sleep physician (pulmonologist) who is specially trained in the area of sleep medicine.

The dental profession has an important role to play in the treatment of patients with snoring and sleep apnea. If 60% of men and 40% of women between forty and sixty years of age snore, this is a huge problem. Snoring is a serious social problem for the spouse, but obstructive sleep apnea can be a life threatening situation for the patient in that it can lead to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and strokes.

At the present time, obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition that is being controlled and treated mainly by the medical profession. Despite the fact that in September 1995, the American Sleep Disorder Association finally endorsed oral appliance therapy as the third currently acceptable treatment method for snoring and sleep apnea, the vast majority of the medical doctors are not aware of the value of oral appliances

As time goes on, the public is going to become more aware of the health risks associated with snoring and sleep apnea. It is the dental profession ' s responsibility to educate their members, the public and the medical profession about the important role that dentists and oral appliances play in the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

 


 
   
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