Do you ever wake up feeling tired even though you slept for a long time? Has your partner heard you snoring or snorting violently during sleep? You may share a problem with 22 million Americans: obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder where some sort of physical obstruction blocks airflow through your throat while sleeping. This obstruction is usually a combination of your tongue falling backwards against your soft palate, which further collapses against your airway.
You likely aren’t consciously aware of this, but your body still reacts to it as it has to fight for air to keep you functioning. This manifests as the aforementioned snoring or harsh gasping. In addition to sounding disturbing, these episodes interrupt your sleep cycle. An interrupted sleep cycle not only makes you tired, but can cause serious health issues.
One of the most popular treatments for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. But these machines aren’t appropriate for everyone.
What is CPAP Intolerance?
CPAP machines help overcome this obstructed airway by simply adding more air. An air compressor delivers lightly pressurized air through a hose to a mask you wear while asleep.
Though very effective, CPAP machines come with several drawbacks. The machine itself can be noisy, especially in more affordable versions, disturbing both the patient and any sleeping partners. Though masks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, sleeping with a device attached to your face can be extremely uncomfortable.
For some people, those drawbacks are significant enough to create CPAP intolerance, meaning that they can’t use the machine for one reason or another. It’s not always as simple as discomfort:
- A latex allergy may prevent some masks from being used.
- Claustrophobes can be triggered by a tight masks.
- People with muscle or joint problems cannot sleep in comfortable positions with some masks.
Oral Sleep Appliances
Thankfully, an alternative to the CPAP machine exists! Oral sleep appliances are custom fit devices that sit in your mouth while you sleep. These lightweight, comfortable devices gently shift your jaw forward as you sleep, keeping your airway open without a mask or machine. Like CPAP machines, they are covered by most insurance plans!
Do you think a oral sleep appliance could be right for your obstructive sleep apnea? Klooster Family Dentistry can help! We offer custom-fit oral appliances to patients across the Triangle. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.