You tried and tried to find a comfortable way to position the mask over your mouth and nose. Then you got one of those nasal masks, which was a little more comfortable, although your spouse would still occasionally wake you up to let you know that you were snoring.
You have sleep apnea. You sincerely want to to do something about it, if only so your partner can get a good night’s sleep.
But the CPAP machine with its noise, its hose, and its mask just isn’t working for you. What else can you do?
If you live in or near Woodbury, MN, you can make an appointment with our dentist, Dr. Mark W. Wilhelm. The FDA has approved oral appliances as an alternative to CPAP for treating obstructive sleep apnea, and we can make one for you.
Why Your CPAP Can Be A Problem
If you have a CPAP machine, then you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea. CPAPs work by forcing air into your airway.
This is necessary for someone with obstructive sleep apnea (sometimes shortened to OSA) When someone with OSA falls asleep, the muscles around his or her airway relax, and the nearby tissues press into the airway.
Initially, this creates a narrower passage for air to get through. This can result in the loud and persistent snoring that is so common among sleep apnea patients.
The idea behind a CPAP is this: pushing air into this space keeps the soft tissue out of the way, which allows the patient to breathe freely. When this works, it is an excellent treatment for sleep apnea.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work, and the reasons can vary from patient to patient.
Some people have trouble falling asleep because of the sound of the machine.
Some people have trouble falling asleep because they find their masks uncomfortable or irritating.
Some people find the hose that connects the mask to the machine is a nuisance.
And some people wake up more often than they would like to learn than they have removed the mask in their sleep.
If one or more of these things is a problem, you may find that you stop using your CPAP altogether, in which case, you aren’t really doing anything about your sleep apnea.
How An Oral Appliance Can Help
In general, oral appliances have been recommended for patients with mild or moderate sleep apnea. However, they also can help patients with severe sleep apnea who have problems using a CPAP machine.
Dr. Wilhelm can create a custom-designed appliance for you. This makes the appliance more comfortable to wear while you sleep.
Like CPAP machines, the purpose of an oral appliance is to keep your airways open. The way this works is the oral appliance holds your jaw in a forward position. That movement helps to keep your airway open.
It may take a little time to get used to sleeping with what is a kind of mouthguard. With a little time and patience, many patients find that this is an effective and comfortable way to get a good night’s sleep and to reduce or end their snoring.
Combining CPAP With An Oral Appliance
For a few patients, neither a CPAP nor an oral appliance alone does everything they need done. That’s why we also want you to know that Dr. Wilhelm’s office is the only treatment center in Minnesota that offers combination therapy. We can create a custom-designed mask with a built-in oral appliance. This allows you to get the maximum benefit from both treatment options.
We Want You To Sleep Better
If you are reading this, you already know that the health risks of untreated sleep apnea go far beyond a spouse who is irritated because he or she hasn’t slept because of your snoring.
Sleep apnea raises blood pressure. It increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. It also increases your risk of being involved in a car accident.
Any of these alone is a good reason to find a treatment that will work for your sleep apnea. By coming to Dr. Wilhelm’s office, you are giving yourself the best opportunity to do that. Whether you need CPAP, an oral appliance, or both, we can help.