CPAP machines used to be the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment. The mask, worn during sleep, releases pressurized air flow continuously or intermittently into the sleeper’s throat, keeping their airway from collapsing.
Studies of the effectiveness of CPAP therapy show that people with sleep apnea who consistently use their machines feel better and encounter fewer complications of the disease. However, many people find the CPAP uncomfortable, so they may stop using the machine, leaving their sleep apnea untreated.
Oral Appliance Therapy
CPAP was once the primary treatment for sleep apnea, but now the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine considers oral appliances to be the first and foremost method of treatment for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea. It’s also a great option for those who cannot tolerate using the CPAP machine due to discomfort or noise. Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is increasingly gaining popularity as a first-line treatment option for many persons diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea.
Oral appliances push the lower jaw and base of the tongue forward and away from the back of the throat. OAT has a much higher rate of acceptance by patients than CPAP and is considered the one of the best alternatives to treating sleep apnea for those who are non-CPAP compliant.
A large percentage (about 70%) of those diagnosed with OSA are overweight or obese. The most common response from their health care professionals is to encourage them to lose weight by eating healthier and exercising. In some cases, changing your lifestyle (quitting smoking, eating healthier, getting exercise, and cutting down on alcohol) can reduce or even eliminate symptoms of sleep apnea.
While it seems simple enough, just making healthier lifestyle changes may have a positive impact on your quality of sleep.