Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that leads to interrupted breathing during sleep due to a blocked airway, causing a person to stop breathing multiple times throughout the night. According to sleepapnea.org, an estimated 22 million people in the U.S. suffer from the condition, though a majority of them go undiagnosed. There are several treatments…
Sleep Apnea Treatment: A Look at CPAP Machines and Oral Appliances
Sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder that causes people to momentarily stop breathing several times throughout the sleep cycle. Indications of the condition include chronic fatigue, snoring and hypertension. In its early stages, sleep apnea may not cause visible symptoms, but it may cause remarkable damage without prompt treatment. This article discusses CPAP machines and oral appliances, the two most common sleep apnea treatments.
Overview of sleep apnea treatment
The two major types of sleep apnea are obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. They both disrupt sleep patterns, and people living with the condition will often wake up feeling unrested and lethargic. Without treatment, it may significantly affect a patient’s short-term and long-term physical and mental health.
If the upper airway is blocked partially or completely while sleeping, it is a case of obstructive sleep apnea. The obstructive forces the chest muscles and diaphragm to work harder to keep the blocked air passages open and draw air into the lungs. Obesity is a contributing factor to this condition. The treatment choice depends on the severity of sleep apnea, but weight reduction might improve the condition.
Dental professionals are often the first to discover signs of sleep apnea by simply examining the airway during a routine checkup. The patient will answer questions about their sleep patterns and if they have noticed any signs or symptoms. Some of the indicators that the general dentist will be looking for during the examination include large tonsils, an oversized tongue, a large or long uvula, and signs of teeth grinding and acid reflux.
Treatment options for sleep apnea
CPAP machine: the most popular treatment for sleep apnea is called the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. This device functions by delivering a steady flow of pressurized air through a mask into a person's respiratory system. For cases of severe to moderate sleep apnea, a CPAP will probably be recommended.
Oral appliances: for those with mild to moderate sleep apnea, the dentist can have a customized mouth device created for the patient. Oral devices are designed specifically to treat sleep apnea by repositioning oral tissues to prevent them from blocking airways. Oral appliances have the same benefits as the CPAP machine minus the tube or operational noises that may disrupt sleep.
Unlike the bulky CPAP machine, oral appliances are portable enough to fit anywhere. This feature makes them perfect for patients who move around a lot. Many people prefer the oral device over a CPAP because of the simplicity of the design and its non-intrusiveness. A dentist can recommend them for patients with severe sleep apnea along with CPAP devices to improve the compliance rate and efficiency of treatment.
By going for sleep apnea treatment, you can reduce the risk of other health conditions, such as stroke, diabetes and heart disease. You will also improve your sleep quality and, consequently, your mental and physical wellbeing. If you have been experiencing signs of sleep apnea, contact the general dentist for an appointment.
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