Excessive snoring, gasping for air, and even cessation of breathing are all symptoms of sleep apnea, a serious condition that can endanger your life. To keep sleep apnea sufferers safe at night, many doctors turn to the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for good reason — it works.
However, our expert team at Bucktown Wicker Park Dental take a more conservative approach first, and many of our patients are thrilled. In many cases, an oral appliance (a small device you wear in your mouth) can remedy your sleep apnea symptoms as effectively as a CPAP machine and with much less hassle. Here’s why:
Depending on your unique set of circumstances, our team might determine that CPAP is the best option for you. But CPAP machines are bulky and awkward, and if a simpler option may work for you just as well, we would rather keep you a little more comfortable while you sleep.
Here’s the difference:
The CPAP uses a mask that covers either your nose or your nose and mouth, straps that hold the mask in place, and a motor that blows a continuous stream of air into your lungs.
An oral appliance has only two small devices that look like retainers or mouthguards. They’re held together by a small hinge and snap onto your upper and lower gums. This device either moves the jaw forward and into an alignment that keeps your airways open, or it uses a splint to keep the tongue from blocking your airway.
Unlike the CPAP’s mask and straps that can slip out of place, oral devices tend to stay put and cause fewer sleep disturbances.
CPAP machines are more than just a mask and straps. They also contain a tube that attaches the mask to the motor. While the machines are smaller now than in the past, they’re still bulky and hard to travel with.
On the other hand, oral appliances can be tucked away in your purse or pocket. With no need for electric power, you can slip it into your mouth discreetly and fall asleep safely anywhere: a plane, a boat, a bus, a gondola, you name it.
Your travel partners will thank you, too. Since oral devices don’t make noise, those sharing your sleeping space don’t have to listen to the CPAP machine all night, nor do they have to listen to you snore.
CPAP machines take daily maintenance. You have to clean your mask every morning with soap and warm water and dry it with a towel. Once a week, you have to wash the CPAP tube in your shower, letting the water run through it, and once a month, you have to wash or change the machine’s filter.
On the contrary, oral appliances are a breeze to take care of. Twice a day, when you brush your teeth, brush your sleep apnea oral appliance at the same time. Just use a gentle toothbrush and a nonabrasive toothpaste. Rinse in cool water and dry the appliance before storing it.
If for some reason, your appliance gets stained and needs a little extra cleaning, you can soak it in a special appliance solution for no more than 15 minutes. However, don’t ever use mouthwash, over-the-counter effervescent denture cleaner, or alcohol to clean your oral appliance.
Clearly, an oral appliance designed to treat sleep apnea can be less obtrusive, easier to wear, and more convenient to travel with. Bonus — that may mean you use it more regularly than you would a CPAP machine. If our dentists decide an oral appliance can help you, it makes sense to try this method first. There are more than 100 FDA-approved oral appliances, and we can custom-fit one just for you. Call us or click the “Request Appointment” button to schedule an appointment today.