Mouth Device for CPAP for Sleep Apnea: Which is Right for You?
Over 25 million people in the United States have Sleep Apnea. That’s one out of every five adults with a serious breathing disorder that increases the chances of cognitive impairment, hypertension, stroke, and heart disease.
The most common treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. Though, another viable option is a mouth device.
If you’re one of the 25 million with a prescription for a CPAP for Sleep Apnea, have you asked about a mouth guard? Many times, both are just as effective. It comes down to user preferences.
Let’s see which one is best for you.
Quick Review of Sleep Apnea
First, a quick review of Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea occurs when your breathing stops during sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type. The obstruction comes from excess tissue at the back of your throat that blocks your airway.
Sleep Apnea results in lower blood oxygen levels, which are a danger to your health. In these cases, both a CPAP and an anti-snoring device like a mouthpiece and clear the airway during sleep.
CPAP for Sleep Apnea
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and is the most commonly prescribed sleep apnea treatment. The CPAP system includes a mask for your face.
Tubing attaches the mask to a machine that creates adjustable air pressure for your throat. Masks come in several designs. Some masks cover only your nose. Others cover your nose and mouth.
Some models include nasal plugs that go directly into your nose. Inside the machine is a motorized fan that draws natural air from the room. The machine filters the air before sending air through the tubing.
Most units also have an option to humidify the air as well. Equipment options improve each year. The machines are more customizable. And the masks come in different styles and materials to reduce discomfort.
The continuous pressure keeps your airway open through the night. CPAP therapy is the primary treatment option for moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea. With it, you maintain the proper levels of oxygen in your lungs and blood.
CPAP Machine Effectiveness
Using a CPAP for Sleep Apnea is a highly effective treatment. Using the CPAP will improve sleep quality and maintain your blood oxygen levels.
It also alleviates the snoring and the negative symptoms related to it. Snoring causes people to wake up with a headache, sore throat, and dry mouth. It also leads to daytime sleepiness due to lack of quality sleep the night before.
Using a CPAP machine improves your health from day one. Users have more energy during the day. If they have a partner, the partner also sleeps better now that the snoring has quieted.
Drawbacks of CPAP Therapy
Drawbacks come from the discomfort some users experience. While the machine works as it should, some user experience CPAP issues that keep them awake during the night. These issues counteract the therapeutic value of the machine.
For example, many don’t care for the noise created by the motor and air movement.
The motor keeps people awake during the night. The forced air can also dry out the throat and nose, creating congestion and discomfort throughout the day.
Others have trouble adjusting to the mask. Wearing a mask over their face is unnatural. Masks must be snug against the face to maintain pressure. As a result, they often leave marks on the face or cause acne to pop up there.
Most of the time, it’s a matter of finding the correct size and type of mask. Until they do, though, there are a lot of sleepless nights.
For those who sleep on their sides or stomachs have to change positions to accommodate the mask and tubing.
Others have more severe reactions to the CPAP. They find it claustrophobic and cannot tolerate it at all. These people often stop using their CPAP machines, even though they are aware of the seriousness of their condition.
However, if you have mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea, you may have the option of choosing an oral appliance or anti-snoring mouthpiece instead.
Mouth Device for Sleep Apnea
A sleep apnea mouth device is commonly called a mouthpiece, oral appliance, or snoring mouthpiece. It is a custom-fitted splint for your mouth. You wear it while you sleep to keep your airway open.
These are FDA-approved and look like orthodontic retainers and mouth guards used in sports.
The sleep apnea mouthpiece keeps your airway open by positioning your lower jaw forward to make room at the back of the throat.
The extra room accommodates your tongue and whatever excess soft tissue you have in your upper throat. The extra space clears the obstruction.
Users can breathe comfortably through the night with no interruptions. Of course, that also means no more snoring.
A sleep medicine dentist creates a custom dental device for Sleep Apnea. Your sleep medicine dentist works with your sleep specialist physician to recommend and customize the right appliance for you.
If your sleep apnea events occur about 5 to 30 per hour, your doctor may include a mouthpiece as a treatment option. At that point, you can meet with a sleep medicine dentist.
Important! Generic mouth guards are not effective for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. If you choose to purchase one online, be sure to select a brand that allows you to mold it to fit your mouth.
Even if your Sleep Apnea is more severe (over 30 events an hour), your doctor may still recommend a mouthpiece. Doctors often recommend them when the patient can’t tolerate the CPAP machine.
Benefits of a Mouthpiece Device for Sleep Apnea
Again, for mild to moderate Sleep Apnea, the effectiveness is the same for both the CPAP machine and the dental mouthpiece. The benefits have everything to do with user comfort.
No Dry Nasal Passages
First, there’s no drying of the nasal passages. Patients who use a CPAP machine often complain that the forced air dries out their nose.
Because the mouthpiece is a custom fit, it doesn’t interfere with your preferred sleep position. Users don’t have to contend with masks that slip or leaving room for tubing. Mustaches and beards don’t represent an issue, either.
No Interference with Allergies
An oral appliance has no impact on the nose. So, if you have hay fever, a cold, or other congestion, you can still wear your mouthpiece. A CPAP mask works best with a clear nose, even one that also covers the mouth.
Less Space and Fewer Parts
An oral appliance has a much lower profile than a CPAP machine. A CPAP mask, the tubing, and machine all need a place at your bedside table. An oral appliance can fit right in the top drawer.
Oral mouth guards also lend themselves well to travel. A mouthpiece is portable, lightweight, and won’t cause impromptu inspections at the airport the way CPAPs do.
You don’t need to plug them in or fuss with batteries. For long flights, you can even wear the mouthpiece on the plane.
A Sleep Apnea mouth guard has no motor. It’s not electric nor battery-operated. Thus, it creates no noise. Light sleepers won’t be disturbed.
If you pay out of pocket for OSA treatment, anti-snoring mouth guards are less costly than CPAP machines and supplies.
If you have insurance, you may find that you save quite a bit on copays because you don’t need to keep replacing masks and tubing.
Perhaps the most significant benefit is the high rate of compliance for Sleep Apnea appliances. May users are more likely to use a stop snoring mouthpiece than they are a full CPAP system.
Mouth guards are far less intrusive than CPAPs. Thus, they are more comfortable. More users will follow through with their treatment plan because of it.
Downsides to Mouthpiece Therapy
Even with the high rate of compliance, some users to have their complaints about the oral anti-snoring devices.
They can resolve many of these issues by following up with their sleep medicine dentist. The dentist can make small adjustments to the device.
One complaint is a buildup of excess saliva that causes drooling as the patient sleeps. This often happens to those who sleep with their mouth open.
Some also experience dry mouth. Others experience sore gums and teeth, along with jaw pain.
Once in a while, the mouth guard can interfere with a patient’s existing orthodontic or dental work. For example, it can damage a crown.
Again, when such discomforts occur, patients should make an appointment with their dentist. That and continued follow-up appointment can minimize or even prevent these issues.
A Custom-Fit Mouthpiece
If you decide to try a mouthpiece, discuss it with your doctor. A device custom-made by a dentist is best, but it is not always practical. There are commercially available mouth guards out there.
Though, opt for one that you can adjust yourself, like the Snore Meds Mouthpiece. It has a “boil-and-bite” feature that allows you to mold the device to the shape of your mouth.
Discuss with Your Doctor
Today, oral appliances are now considered along with the CPAP for Sleep Apnea. Both are formidable first-line therapies for mild to moderate cases of the disorder.
If you are one of the millions who cannot tolerate a CPAP machine, then an oral device may be your answer. It’s worth having a discussion with your sleep medicine specialist.
If you have any questions about mouth guards, please contact us.
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