It’s estimated that sleep apnea affects as many as 12 million Americans, and it’s likely that an even greater number of patients don’t even know they have it. That’s because sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose outside of a sleep study and looking at common symptoms like restless sleep, snoring, and fatigue throughout the day. If you’ve been discussing your obstructive sleep apnea options with your dentist, however, you should know that you have a couple of options. Here’s a quick guide to the two most common sleep apnea solutions.
Short for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, this device has been used for a long time by sleep apnea sufferers and is still the treatment of choice for many dentists. It works by applying mild air pressure to the throat to keep it unblocked throughout the night, allowing you to breathe on your own without difficulty. However, if you’ve used a CPAP machine, you know that it can be cumbersome and not easily tolerated. For some patients, the negatives outweigh the positives, leading to little improvement in sleep quality.
The Snore Guard
Also called a mandibular advancement device, these mouthpieces are often used in treating snoring because it prevents the tongue from moving back in the mouth and the jaw from relaxing too far. This can also be helpful in treating sleep apnea because it can keep the jaw in position and support the body’s breathing mechanisms. This device doesn’t utilize any air pressure and can be preferred by patients with specific sleeping requirements. However, like the CPAP, it can require some time for adjustment, both as you get used to sleeping with it and by your dentist to find the most effective measurements for you.
Choosing a Device
One factor that prevents many patients from opting for either treatment method is cost. However, it’s important to consider how the cost outweighs the benefits for both you and your partner. This is especially important when looking at the long-term, since these devices can last for five years or more if cared for. Many patients find that it’s worth the cost to greatly improve their quality of life and relationships by getting restful sleep.
When looking at your options, be wary of online devices that promise a lower cost than medical devices prescribed by your dentist. Not only can they be ineffective, but can be made of materials that encourage bacteria growth. If not fitted properly, they can also cause long-term problems in the jaw and joints. It’s best to consult your dentist for your sleep apnea device options, since they can find a cost-effective option that will work best for you. In fact, Dr. Zwier has been making sleep apnea appliances and treatment equipment for more than 17 years and can explain your best options.
Schedule a Consultation
Sleep apnea diagnosis usually begins with a sleep study to determine your causes, symptoms, and treatment options. Sleep studies can be expensive, however, so Dr. Zwier can recommend other options during a consultation, as well as find the right device for you. To schedule an appointment, contact our Grand Rapids office by calling, texting, or filling out our online form.