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Is There an Alternative to CPAP?

Continuous positive air pressure, or CPAP, therapy, is the No. 1 method to treat obstructive sleep apnea.

Last year, I wrote a blog about obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). I did not quite know the reach of that blog, but since then, I have received more questions about the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and alternative treatments.

OSA is a serious, life-threatening disorder that is characterized when individuals stop breathing completely for 10 seconds or more, several times in a single night, while asleep. If your partner hears loud snoring, punctuated by silences and then a snort or choking sound as you resume breathing, this pattern could signal sleep apnea.

I have had several patients ask me about treatment of OSA. For the record, let me state that continuous positive air pressure, or CPAP, therapy, is the No. 1 method to treat OSA. A CPAP mask is worn during sleep and delivers various degrees of airflow to assist with breathing while sleeping. However, what happens when a person cannot wear or will not wear their CPAP? Are there any treatment options? Yes, there are!

One option is mandibular advancement appliance (MAA). This is a NON-SURGICAL treatment. A mouthpiece is custom made in your dentist’s office, usually in one to two visits. It is a very simple solution for mild to moderate sleep apnea, or a patient that will not or cannot wear their CPAP. Simply by moving the bottom jaw forward, more oxygen is allowed into the body. There are several different types of MAA available and your dentist, working with your physician and sleep study center, will determine which one is best for you specific needs.

Other OSA treatment options are available. Most are SURGICAL options. Your physician is better suited to discuss the surgical treatment options with you and your loved ones.

If you have any questions or concerns about dental problems or just want useful information, don’t forget to “Ask Dr. Pierson” at pdastaff@gmail.com. Your question may be the next blog!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lydia sosenko December 10, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Thanks for the much needed info! There are actually over 80 types of oral devices (MAA) that may help control or reverse apnea events. It is important to note that this type of therapy, often called oral appliance therapy, is not typically covered by dental curriculum. A great resource to find a dentist working with these devices is the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. The Diplomates on their lists have passed a vigorous process specifically on this type of treatment. Hope this info helps some readers. Lydia Sosenko DDS

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