Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep Apnea TreatmentThere are 3 types of therapy for patients suffering from sleep apnea and snoring.  By far the most often prescribed is CPAP therapy.  It consists of a facemask and bedside apparatus that delivers constant positive air pressure through the nose to keep the airway open.  This therapy has been used as a one stop solution to OSA but it is estimated that up to 65% of patients fail to maintain long term compliance.  Patient’s complaints include: 

  • Nose and Throat dryness
  • Sinus Infections
  • Mask leaks irritate eyes
  • Straps uncomfortable
  • Difficult to travel with
  • Social implications of mask 

Although CPAP therapy is the “gold standard” in treatment, it is worthless if the patient can’t tolerate the appliance.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is another very effective means of treating mild to moderate cases of OSA.  This therapy uses a mouth piece which positions the jaw slightly forward and prevents the airway from collapsing.  Although all patients are not candidates for this therapy, its compliance rate is dramatically greater than the cumbersome CPAP.  We have successfully treated many patients who were not compliant with their CPAPs using oral appliances.

A third treatment alternative is surgery.  The types of surgery range from the removal of soft tissues including the uvula, to sectioning of the jaw and maxilla and moving them forward.  Sometimes implants are placed in the back of the throat to hold the soft palate open.  Although sometimes effective, these treatments are generally irreversible, painful, and generally have low success rates.

The Dental Sleep Institute of Carlsbad considers it our primary objective to educate patients about their options and help them make the right choice in treatment.  This requires a cooperative effort between dentist, sleep specialist, primary physician and possible ENT specialist.  We believe that an inexpensive take home test to diagnose sleep related disorders can be invaluable in strategizing treatment as well as determining the best way to utilize your insurance coverage.

Patients who do have treatment should always have a follow-up assessment to verify that the treatment is working.  All therapies can be adjusted to optimize the benefits.  Even if patients are feeling better and no longer snore they should ensure that there is objective evidence that their therapy is working.