Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea
If you have severe snoring or sleep apnea, a result of the airway temporarily closing, and have struggled with a CPAP machine, you are not alone. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and keeps your airway open while you sleep. The machine’s hose and head gear can feel quite confining, and must be cleaned every day to avoid molds in the tubing. Some people just can’t sleep with all the straps on their head and being hooked up to a machine via a breathing tube. The various nose pieces can also be uncomfortable. If you sleep on your side, the face mask can keep getting bumped askew.
Fortunately, there is a more comfortable alternative known as oral appliance therapy, and new research shows it is an effective alternative to CPAP. First Dr. Thomas will complete an examination of your teeth, jaw, tongue and airway. Next, he will take an impression of your teeth and send it to a lab to create an appliance that fits your mouth and teeth.
The oral appliance fits your teeth like a mouth guard or retainer and is comfortable, easy to wear, portable, and quiet. You’ll need to visit Dr. Thomas a couple of times after getting the device to be sure it fits properly. Worn during sleep, the device keeps your airway open, helping to prevent the collapse of the tongue and other muscles at the back of the throat that restrict breathing.
When you first use the appliance, your mouth will react to wearing it by creating more saliva. This will quiet down after a few minutes and you’ll begin to feel comfortable with it. It may take a few days to get used to having this appliance in your mouth, but after a few nights, you hardly notice it.
If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, have your family doctor order a sleep study. If the test indicates you indeed do have sleep apnea, then you can make an appointment with Dr. Thomas to discuss the oral appliance. If you have a positive diagnosis of sleep apnea from a medically ordered sleep study, some insurances and Medicare may cover some of the cost. Check with Dr. Thomas’ office to determine what insurances they accept.