Sleep is scarce and unpredictable at my house with 3 babies under 3, so when I do get to finally lay my head down at night, the sleep that I get should really be quality. Sometimes I find myself tossing and turning a lot and I’m embarrassed to say I snore (so says my husband…okay, I’ve woken myself up snoring a few times – eek).
If you’re a loud, frequent and habitual snorer or stop breathing during sleep, you may have sleep apnea. You could possibly be not breathing anywhere from 10 seconds to more than a minute up to hundreds of times a night. It affects more than 12-18 million adults in the United States and can increase the risk for serious problems like congestive heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease
I’m sure you’ve seen the CPAP machines or know someone who uses one. I know I’ve got a couple friends whose spouse uses one. I’ve also seen snore sprays and strips to help you breathe as well as other home remedies like taping a tennis ball to the back of your pajamas to force side-sleeping (lol). The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), a leading national organization of dentists who treat sleep apnea with an oral appliance worn at night, which is a little-known alternative to CPAP.
The oral appliance looks like a dental mouth guard that you would wear for teeth grinding or boxing (I know there have to be some SCM readers who can pound someone down – right?). Pretty simple and much less bulky and Darth Vader-like than a CPAP machine!
What is Oral Appliance Therapy?
Pioneered by dentists, oral appliance therapy is an effective alternative to the standard continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and mask. It uses a “mouth guard-like” device worn only during sleep to maintain an open, unobstructed airway. Oral appliance therapy devices prevent the airway from collapsing, typically by supporting the jaw in a forward position. There are currently more than 80 different styles of oral appliance therapy devices that have received FDA clearance.
Treatment Options: Oral Appliance Therapy and CPAP
– CPAP is the standard treatment for sleep apnea.
– Because CPAP involves sleeping with a mask that forces air through your nose/mouth, it can be hard for some patients to tolerate.
– Up to 50 percent of sleep apnea patients do not comply with or tolerate CPAP, which ultimately means many people with sleep apnea are opting not to treat this serious disease.
– Oral appliance therapy often can equal CPAP in effectiveness and achieve higher compliance.
– Many patients prefer oral appliance therapy devices to CPAP masks because they are comfortable, easy to wear, quiet, portable and easy to care for.
How are you diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Unintentionally falling asleep during the day
- General daytime sleepiness
- Unrefreshed sleep
- Waking from sleep with a choking sound or gasping for breath
- Loud snoring
Board-certified sleep physicians can diagnose patients with primary snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. This is usually done with a sleep test.
Dentists trained in dental sleep medicine can then provide treatment with oral appliance therapy – custom-fit/adjusted – often covered by medical insurance.
If any of the warning signs for sleep apnea are present in your household, you should consult a sleep physician and visit https://www.localsleepdentist.
Keep Calm and Sleep On!
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Disclossure: I was compensated for this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own.