woman lying awake because husband snoring from sleep apnea

Positive Airway Pressure Devices vs Oral Appliances

Sleep apnea can be managed using various treatment approach and two of the commonly used methods are positive airway pressure devices and oral appliances. Let us discuss each one of them to find out which is one is better for sleep apnea.

Positive Airway Pressure Devices

Sleep Apnea sufferer

A positive airway pressure machine is used together with a breathing mask. It is one of the commonly used treatment methods for moderate to severe sleep apnea. The mask is worn over the nose and sometimes over the mouth during sleep and it will deliver pressurized air to prevent the patient’s airway from collapsing during sleep.

Dentists are now involved in the treatment of sleep apnea. There are now dentists who are specially trained to treat and manage sleep apnea. They are called dental sleep professionals. What they do is they create a custom-fitted dental appliance which the patient needs to wear during sleep to keep the airway open and prevent the tongue and muscles from blocking the airway. The use of the oral appliance for the treatment of patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea has been approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. In fact, they also recommend oral appliance for patients with severe sleep apnea, especially those who cannot tolerate positive airway pressure devices.

The air comes from the machine and delivered to the system via a flexible tube. There are different types of machines used such as:

  • CPAP – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
  • BiPAP – Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure
  • VPAP – Variable Positive Airway Pressure

Is CPAP Effective

The efficacy of a positive airway pressure device primarily depends on the patient’s adherence. Those who consistently use the machine feel better. They noticed a significant reduction of hypopnea and apnea episodes during sleep. There is also a significant reduction in snoring. However, some sleep apnea patients don’t like using positive airway pressure devices as they are not that comfortable to wear. They also produce annoying sounds. Those who started using it stop in the middle while others don’t even start using it.

Oral/Dental Appliances

obstructive sleep apnea

Many sleep apnea patients prefer oral appliance over a positive airway pressure device because it is comfortable and easy to wear, portable, and does not produce annoying sounds. There are oral devices that can be readily purchased over the counter. They are cheaper than custom made oral devices, but they do not guarantee a proper fit. Fitting is important as a poorly fit oral device can cause the tooth to move as well as the possibility of developing jaw-related problems. If you wish to use an oral appliance for sleep apnea treatment, then you should see a dentist specializing in sleep medicine. The dentist will thoroughly assess your condition, create a custom-fitted oral appliance, and will do the necessary adjustments.

For people with severe sleep apnea, a combination of oral appliance and positive airway pressure is helpful. Just make sure you see a sleep specialist to thoroughly assess the severity of your condition and come up with the best treatment and management plan.

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