Many people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea depend on CPAP therapy just to function everyday. But many patients may not know there is a simpler, cheaper treatment for sleep apnea. Mandibular advancement devices (or just oral appliances) were shown in a recent study to relieve one symptom of obstructive sleep apnea as well as CPAP. Let us explain why we at Sherman Oaks Dental prefer oral appliances for our patients.
Equally Effective at Lowering Blood Pressure
Those who suffer with obstructive sleep apnea know the difficulty of trying to function without a good night’s sleep; and the problems their snoring causes those who sleep around them. But sleep apnea is also associated with high blood pressure, which can lead to higher risk for cardiovascular disease. So, how well a sleep apnea treatment decreases blood pressure for patients is obviously an essential question when choosing a therapy.
A recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared the effects of different therapies on the blood pressure of sleep apnea patients. The study looked at thousands of sleep apnea patients, some of whom were treated with CPAP, some with oral appliances, and some with placebo or no treatment. Patients who received oral appliance therapy saw comparable decreases in blood pressure to those who used CPAP machines. So if both therapies are effective, which is the best option for you?
Advantages of Treating Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliances
For years, the leading therapy for obstructive sleep apnea has been CPAP. With the CPAP machine, the patient wears a mask to bed that’s attached to a pump unit by a tube. Air is forced through the patient’s airway to keep it open. This solution works well for many people, but the machine is bulky, expensive, and for many patients it’s too invasive to get a good night’s sleep.
A mandibular advancement device is a simple mouthpiece that the patient puts in their mouth while they sleep. This appliance, customized for each patient, keeps the airway open by forcing the lower jaw forward. In our experience this solution is just as effective at treating sleep apnea without a lot of negatives we see with the CPAP machine. Here are the main benefits of the oral appliance over CPAP:
- The oral appliance doesn’t string you to anything while you sleep
- It doesn’t require space on a bedstand
- It’s small enough to fit in your pocket while you travel
- Many patients find the mouthpiece more comfortable than the CPAP mask
- The oral appliance is much, much, much less expensive
A Personal Decision
For patients who have been using CPAP to treat their obstructive sleep apnea, and they’re happy with it, stay with what is working. For patients who are still struggling with sleep apnea, we always recommend starting with the easier, more affordable option. Both therapies will take some getting used to, so why not put your effort into the solution that will give you the best overall experience. The primary goal of treatment is to manage your sleep apnea so you’re getting the sleep you need, you feel better, and you’re healthier. If you’d like to discuss your options with a sleep apnea dentist, we’re always happy to talk.