Odds are you know someone who uses a CPAP machine for sleep apnea. Although it is more common in older adults, especially men, people of all ages can suffer from sleep apnea, even children. A CPAP machine may be the most common or well-known treatment for sleep apnea, but there are other options.
What alternative treatments are there for sleep apnea besides CPAP? Here are some of the possibilities.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that prevents you from getting quality sleep. It is characterized by loud snoring and actual pauses in breathing while sleeping. Snoring is caused by the vibrations of the soft tissues of your mouth that are partially obstructing your airway. When you lay down, especially on your back, the soft tissues of the mouth slide back toward the throat and the throat tissues collapse, causing an airway obstruction.
With sleep apnea your airway may become completely blocked so that you stop breathing for a few seconds to a couple of minutes. As your brain registers the lack of oxygen, it rouses you from sleep enough to change positions and resume breathing. This can happen hundreds of times over the course of a single night, preventing you from reaching a deep level of sleep that is necessary to get adequate rest.
What is a CPAP?
One of the most common treatments for sleep apnea is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. It consists of a mask you wear over your mouth and nose that is connected to a machine that delivers a constant flow of air that keeps your airway open while you sleep. It may take some time to get used to, but most patients find that their symptoms greatly improve with this treatment.
What Other Treatments Are There For Sleep Apnea?
There are alternative treatments to a CPAP machine that have their own benefits:
- Custom oral appliance. An oral appliance can be worn at night to reposition your jaw in a way that prevents the soft tissues of your mouth from sliding back to block your airway. It is custom made to fit your mouth and also prevents teeth grinding. It is compact and easy to travel with.
- Orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic treatment can provide a permanent solution to sleep apnea. Growth modification appliances and other orthodontic treatments can reshape the jaw to prevent the airway from becoming blocked while you sleep. Once orthodontic treatment is complete, you only need to wear a small retainer at night to maintain the results of your treatment.
- Oral surgery. Surgery can be performed on the throat to remove excess tissue that is blocking your airway at night. A tonsillectomy is sometimes helpful to remove swollen or enlarged tonsils that are causing airway obstruction. Jaw surgery is another form of oral surgery that can prevent sleep apnea.
Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Orthodontic treatment for sleep apnea has many benefits over other treatments:
- Permanent solution. Orthodontic treatment provides a permanent, or at least a long term solution, to sleep apnea. In many cases, getting the necessary orthodontic treatment you need can eliminate your sleep apnea symptoms completely.
- No bulky equipment. With orthodontic treatment for sleep apnea, you can avoid wearing a bulky mask and lugging a heavy CPAP machine along with you when you travel.
- Improves dental and oral health. Orthodontic treatment also improves your dental and oral health by straightening your teeth and aligning your top and bottom jaw so that your teeth meet together properly.
- May help you avoid surgery. In many cases orthodontic treatment is all that is required to treat sleep apnea. This is especially true in the case of early orthodontic intervention that can guide the growth of the jaw into the ideal shape. In some cases surgery may still be required, but your chances may be reduced when orthodontic treatment begins at the right time.
Demko Orthodontics Provides Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you’re interested in non-surgical treatment of your sleep apnea, Demko Orthodontics can provide the necessary treatment. We offer both custom oral sleep appliances and orthodontia. After a thorough sleep consultation, we will recommend the best course of treatment for your sleep apnea to help you get better quality sleep for improved health and wellness.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.