The Benefits of Oral Devices Over Machines for Treating Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can cause more than just noisy snoring. It can be a life-threatening condition, and treatment can help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart problems. Treatment can also help reduce the side effects of inadequate sleep, such as morning headaches, daytime sleepiness, and brain fog.  

David Epstein, DDS, and Nikita Vakil, DMD, of The Woodlands Dental Group in The Woodlands, Texas, have helped many patients with certain types of sleep apnea get better sleep by using oral devices. In this blog, they explain what sleep apnea is and why you might prefer an oral device over an airway machine.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which you briefly stop breathing, thus causing you to wake up momentarily to start breathing again. This can happen many times throughout the night, though you may not be aware of it. There are three types of sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your throat muscles relax, thus blocking your airway. This is the most common type of sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn’t signal your muscles to take in air. This type of sleep apnea is more rare.

Mixed sleep apnea

Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Oral device or machine?

Supplemental oxygen might be needed if you have central sleep apnea. Furthermore, an airway machine — such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device — might be needed if you have a severe case of obstructive sleep apnea. 

However, if you have a mild or moderate case of obstructive sleep apnea, you may be able to use either an oral device or an airway machine. Both oral devices and airway machines treat sleep apnea, but they do it in different ways.

A CPAP machine, for example, provides a steady flow of air via a mask into your airways. Oral devices, on the other hand, require no machinery. They fit into your mouth and work by positioning your jaws and tongue in a way that reduces airway obstructions.

At The Woodlands Dental Group, we use an oral appliance called a mandibular repositioning device (MRD). This oral device fits into your mouth, and you wear it while you sleep. The device pushes your tongue and jaw forward, and this subtle repositioning enables you to breathe freely while you sleep. 

5 benefits of using an oral device

Are you considering an oral device to treat your sleep apnea? Here are five reasons to consider using one:

1. Oral devices are easier to clean

CPAP machines require a more rigorous cleaning routine than oral devices. If mold or water builds up in a CPAP machine, it can start to smell. 

2. Oral devices can be more comfortable

There are many reasons why people find CPAP machines uncomfortable. In order to stay in place, a CPAP mask is secured to your face with straps and covers your mouth and nose. The mask can limit your ability to switch positions or roll over throughout the night.

Furthermore, some people can feel claustrophobic with the mask covering so much of their face. CPAP machines can also cause dry mouth and aerophagia. Aerophagia is a short-term condition that’s caused by swallowing too much air. This may cause your stomach to feel bloated and uncomfortable.

3. Machines are noisy

CPAP machines are often noisy, and some sleepers can’t tolerate the noise at night. Oral devices don’t make a sound.

4. Oral devices are easier to move

Oral devices are much easier to travel with, because there’s no bulky machinery to pack or take with you.

5. Oral devices don’t use power

CPAP machines require an outlet in order to work. Your oral device will work regardless of whether you have power. 

To learn more about sleep apnea or to find out if an oral device is right for you, book an appointment over the phone with The Woodlands Dental Group today.

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