Both oral appliances and CPAP machines are successful, common therapies for people with sleep apnea. Though they work via different mechanisms, the end result is the same: better breathing, fewer wake-ups, and improved health.
Explore the differences between oral appliances and CPAP machines to help you determine which might be better for your condition, as well as how our qualified sleep dentists at Chase Dental SleepCare can help you get on the right track.
CPAP for sleep apnea
Considered the gold standard for treatment of sleep apnea, CPAP machines deliver a consistent flow of pressurized air through your airway. The air flows through a flexible tube attached to a face mask, which covers your nose. You can choose from a handful of different mask types, including full face (nose and mouth), nasal only, and nasal pillow (nostril plugs).
The pressurized air from the CPAP machine keeps your airway from collapsing, thus reducing or completely eliminating the apneas — pauses in breathing — that result in disturbed sleep, daytime fatigue, and other symptoms of sleep apnea.
Even though CPAP therapy is regarded as the most effective treatment for sleep apnea, it’s not the best fit for all patients. For example, some people feel claustrophobic with a mask on at night. People who travel frequently might get frustrated packing and transporting their machine everywhere. Others who have very mild sleep apnea might not notice a big improvement with CPAP therapy.
Oral appliances for sleep apnea
Oral appliances are a category of dental devices fit by a qualified dentist and sleep specialist. Many patients use them as alternative therapy if they can’t or don’t want to use a CPAP machine. These appliances resemble night guards or sports mouthguards, and they’re always — or should be — custom-fitted by a dentist.
They work by keeping your airway open during sleep and are most effective for patients who experience sleep apnea due to excess throat tissue or a lolling tongue. By keeping your airway free of tissue, air flows freely, and you should experience fewer apneas throughout the night.
While effective for many sleep apnea patients, oral appliances aren’t always an acceptable alternative to CPAP. Research shows that CPAP therapy outperforms oral appliances in pretty much every scenario, as long as the patient uses the CPAP machine as instructed.
Which one is best for me?
The best sleep apnea treatment for you depends on a range of factors, including:
- The type of sleep apnea you have
- The severity of your sleep apnea
- Your sleeping position
- Lifestyle factors such as travel (CPAPs are often hard to transport)
- Your level of comfort with a CPAP
- Your insurance and budget
The only true way to determine whether you need an oral appliance or a CPAP machine is to see a sleep professional. At Chase Dental SleepCare, we run home sleep tests, perform in-lab polysomnography, and conduct physical examinations to provide patients with a diagnosis and to develop care plans.
To learn more and find out if you can benefit from an oral appliance or CPAP machine, schedule an appointment at one of our many Chase Dental SleepCare locations today. Call one of our convenient New York locations or reach out to us through our online form.