CPAP therapy is by far the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea, and for many, the solution is worse than the problem. A lot of people find the machine to be too loud, too uncomfortable, and too inconvenient to use night after night, so they simply don’t! Thankfully, there are other proven ways to help reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea that don’t require you to be literally hooked up to an air pump. What are they, and how do they work?
Oral Appliance Therapy
Today’s dentists can do more than just whiten and clean your teeth! Trained sleep dentists can provide custom-made mouthguards that someone wears to bed that gently shift the lower jaw forward, preventing the stoppages in breathing stemming from sleep apnea (while eliminating snoring at the same time). Compared to a CPAP machine, they are much simpler to use, quiet, and don’t require nearly the same level of maintenance. And it’s actually viable to travel with these appliances as they can fit in your pocket.
Enlarged tonsils or adenoids, excess tissue in the soft palate, or an underdeveloped jaw can all directly cause sleep apnea. These issues can be corrected with surgery, which opens up the airway and makes it possible for a person to breathe normally throughout the night.
One of the leading risk factors for sleep apnea is excess weight and obesity, as the development of fatty tissue on the throat and chest can make the airway more likely to become obstructed throughout the night. As such, losing weight can remove this pressure, but people are still recommended to seek out professional treatment so they can get their sleep under control in less time than it takes to lose 20, 50, or 100 pounds.
Change Sleep Position
When you sleep on your back, gravity pulls down on your tongue and soft tissues of your throat, which can end up blocking your airway. This is why some people only snore when they sleep on their backs. As you can imagine, this position can make sleep apnea much worse. Simple as it may sound, putting in the effort to become a side sleeper can provide some immediate relief.
If you already have a CPAP machine, it is in your best interest to use it every night, even if it is a bit awkward. But, you can still reach out to a sleep dentist to find out if oral appliance therapy would work for you or if surgery is absolutely necessary. You can start taking advantage of the other two suggested solutions on your own, and between all of these options, you’re guaranteed to improve your quality of rest and health for years to come.
About the Author
Dr. David J. Drummond earned his dental degree at the Northwestern University Dental School in Chicago, and he has regularly continued his education in many specialties, like oral surgery, prosthodontics, and sleep apnea therapy. If you’re ready to sleep better and stop needing your CPAP, request an appointment through our website or call (580) 227-8789.