Seeking a sleep apnea cure: Indianapolis patients look beyond CPAP
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 18 million Americans have sleep apnea. This condition can have a serious long-term health impact, and loud snoring that often accompanies it deprives bedmates of quality rest. For many years, CPAP therapy has been the standard non-surgical treatment. Let’s take a look at why so many apneics are looking for an alternative sleep apnea cure. Indianapolis dentist, Dr. Matthew Church, shares this helpful information.
Understanding sleep apnea
There are several types of sleep apnea, but the most common is OSA or obstructive sleep apnea. As you begin to fall asleep, the tongue and soft tissues relax into the back of the throat, blocking the airway and impeding natural breathing. Flow of oxygen to the brain and body is restricted, triggering an alarm response. You jerk, snort, choke, or gasp into wakefulness, take a few normal breaths, and then the process repeats. Episodes can last just a few seconds or several minutes, and may occur dozens of times per hour. Depending on severity, apneics get very little deep REM sleep. This leads to daytime drowsiness and impaired performance. Other health effects include erectile dysfunction, weight gain, depression, elevated blood pressure, and increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
How cpap works – and when it doesn’t
A continuous positive airway pressure device holds the airway open during sleep with constant flow delivered through a face mask. CPAP is very effective . . . when it is used consistently. Most people, though, don’t rest comfortably with straps around their heads, and attached to a noisy machine. Nasal congestion, dry nose and throat, and irritation of facial skin are also common complaints. Even the most modern versions are bulky for travel, and you can imagine the impact of hooking up to CPAP on romantic ambiance. Studies show that compliance is questionable – less than 50 percent of patients prescribed CPAP use it more than four hours per night.
Oral appliance therapy as an alternative or adjunct
A discreet dental appliance can be a great solution for patients diagnosed with OSA. This device is about the size of a sports mouth guard. It depresses the tongue and holds the lower jaw slightly open and forward, to keep the airway clear. The device is sized and adjusted to fit comfortably. It is portable, in a carrying case that fits easily into your handbag, pocket, or carry-on luggage. It can be slipped into the mouth just before going to sleep, and it is simple to keep the appliance clean. Most importantly, it works! The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reports oral appliance therapy is beneficial for two-thirds of patients, particularly those with slight to moderate OSA. For severe cases, a dental appliance can be used with CPAP to improve sleep quality.
Don’t lose another night’s rest looking for a sleep apnea cure. Call Indianapolis dentist, Dr. Matthew Church at Washington Street Dentistry. The number is (317) 333-6788.