CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines are often recommended for individuals with sleep problems, including sleep apnea and excessive snoring. The CPAP uses air pressure delivered through a mask to prevent airways from closing when the wearer is asleep. The mask is worn over the nose and mouth and is attached to an air hose that delivers mild air pressure, forcing the airway open.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder that can have a life-long negative impact on your health. Individuals with sleep apnea do not get a good night’s sleep because their breathing stops and starts throughout the night. Many people with sleep apnea snore loudly and have chronic daytime fatigue due to repeated drops in oxygen levels while sleeping. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by the muscles in the airway relaxing during sleep or the tongue falling back against the airway, blocking airflow. Snoring is often the most obvious symptom of sleep apnea.
Is Snoring Bad?
Many people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea, which can be dangerous to your health due to decreased oxygen levels. However, not everyone who snores has OSA. Those who do may have other symptoms, including:
- Gasping or choking during the night
- Breathing pauses while asleep (your partner usually notices this)
- Extreme daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Headaches when waking
- Sore or dry throat in the morning
- Restless sleep
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain at night
- Disruptive, extremely loud snoring
If you have one or more of these symptoms, your snoring is probably bad for your health and could shorten your life due to complications and long-term lack of restorative sleep.
Why You May Want to Consider Alternatives to CPAP
While a CPAP machine is the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea and snoring, it does not work for everyone. Many individuals are uncomfortable wearing the device, which is cumbersome and awkward. Frequent complaints include dry mouth, leaking masks, and poor fit. It is typically not as effective for stomach sleepers or mouth breathers. Wearing a CPAP can be difficult if you travel, making being physically close to a partner difficult. Because there are so many limitations to successful CPAP use, you may want to consider some alternatives.
Alternative Sleep Apnea and Snoring Treatments
- Lifestyle changes, including not sleeping on your back, quitting smoking, and losing weight
- EPAP valves worn in the nostrils
- Oral snoring appliances
Oral Appliances for Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Oral appliances are often the best alternative to CPAP for sleep apnea and snoring. They are compact, comfortable, and effective, which encourages greater compliance. Over the years, over 100 different styles of oral appliances have been approved by the FDA for treating sleep apnea.
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) uses an oral device that resembles a sports mouthguard. This snoring appliance is worn at night to maintain an open airway by preventing the tongue from falling back into the throat. Some devices pull the jaw slightly forward, while others push the jaw back depending on what is most effective for the wearer. To be effective, oral appliances must be custom fitted to the individual’s mouth, teeth, and jaw.
If you have sleep apnea or your partner is frustrated by your snoring, please call us, particularly if the thought of wearing a CPAP machine frustrates you. The dentists at Kalons, Glidewell & Grewal can assist you in finding the right oral appliance and precision fitting it for comfort and effectiveness. Call our uptown Charlotte office at Charlotte Dentist Office Phone Number 704-378-6591 to schedule an appointment convenient for you.