Sleep Apnea can severely impact your health, sleep, and your general well-being. It is important to consult with your physician and understand the different options when it comes to treating sleep apnea, in order to find the treatment best suited to your condition. The most common and the “gold standard” method for treating sleep apnea is through CPAP. Other methods include behavior modification, Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation (The Inspire unit), and Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT).

If CPAP is not working for you or if you are intolerant to CPAP, looking into The Inspire unit or OAT may be beneficial. In our practice we frequently treat patients and their sleep apnea utilizing a custom fitted oral appliance. As with most medical treatments, there are myths about what OAT really is, and how it can help you. The purpose of this blog is to review some of those myths and educate you about sleep apnea treatments so you can find the best possible treatment method.

Myth #1: CPAP is the only therapy for sleep apnea.

This is not accurate. Instead, if a patient does not respond well to CPAP therapy, Oral Appliance Therapy could be a viable solution. OAT uses a tailor made mouth guard-like device worn during sleep to steady the lower jaw and assist in keeping the airway open. Oral appliances are custom fit to your mouth’s requirements to ensure maximum effectiveness. OAT is easy to use, relatively comfortable, and non-invasive.

Myth #2: Oral Appliance Therapy isn’t as effective as CPAP therapy.

OAT actually has very positive patient compliance and at times, more so that with CPAP. Although CPAP has greater effectiveness when used, OAT has been found to be more efficacious due to its convenience and comfort. Both OAT and CPAP reduce sleepiness and improve health and quality of life .

Myth #3: Oral Appliance Therapy causes extreme teeth movement.

OAT’s side effects upon teeth are mild and most patients often do not notice them or are not bothered by them. Bite changes will and do occur however, these do not typically dissuade patients from continued use of OAT. Tooth related side effects can be minimized and are generally well tolerated.

Myth #4: Oral appliances are more expensive than CPAP.

Actually, OAT can be less expensive than CPAP over time. CPAP use requires the replacing of masks, filters, and tubes regularly, adding ongoing costs and down time for repair. These costs can definitely add up over period of years.

Myth #5: Oral Appliance Therapy should not be used for treating severe OSA.

OAT is used in managing OSA either on its own, or in some cases, in combination with CPAP. When looking at patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea, it was found that OAT and CPAP can be used together to help reduce the air pressure needed for optimal CPAP therapy. “Co- therapy” as it is called, functions to increase comfort and works to maintain upper airway patency better than with either treatment used alone.

Myth #6: Oral Appliance Therapy can be provided by any dentist.

OAT should only be provided by a qualified dentist who has appropriate training in the field of dental sleep medicine. Dr. Maestro is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, a distinction held by those dentists committed to the science of collaborative treatment of sleep related breath disorders.

For more insight and answers to your questions about OAT and whether or not it is right for you, feel free to schedule a Sleep Apnea consultation with Dr. Maestro to review your case today!

It is important to remember that no single treatment method is better than the other. However, understanding the varying aspects of each method and how they might apply to your case will help you to narrow in on best option for your care.

Source: American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

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