If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you must get treatment. Sleep apnea is a condition with serious, even potentially deadly complications. Your doctor may recommend CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) for your sleep apnea treatment.
If the idea of committing to wearing a mask and hose system every night makes you unhappy, you’re not alone. Many people in Anchorage dislike CPAP. Fortunately, there are other treatment options, including oral appliance therapy. Many people find oral appliance therapy a better choice for treating their sleep apnea. Here are just some reasons why people choose oral appliances over CPAP.
Oral appliance therapy wins out first and foremost because it’s more comfortable. There is no mask to wear and no straps that go around your head, touching your face. You also don’t have a hose connecting you to a pump, which can make it hard to change your position on the bed and get comfortable.
In addition, you won’t have air forced down your throat, which can lead to bloating and gassiness in the morning.
Instead, your oral appliance will simply hold your jaw in a comfortable position, leaving you free to move around. There are no straps or mask–nothing that touches your face.
Easy to Use
CPAP can be difficult to use. Every day you have to set up the system, reassemble it, and turn on any necessary accessories–like a humidifier and heater–before getting to sleep. You have to strap the mask on properly, so it’s secure but not too tight. Adjusting CPAP pressure can also be difficult as you have to find the right pressure, which isn’t always easy to determine.
An oral appliance is easy to use. Just put it in. If you need to adjust it, this is simple, too. Usually, a simple screw or similar mechanism is all the adjustment you need.
Easy to Clean
CPAP can be a challenge to clean. You have to disassemble all the parts and wash each one individually. You wash the pieces as if you were washing dishes: get a sink full of hot soapy water, and make sure you rinse and dry thoroughly before using again. For every part, we recommend you do this at least weekly to reduce the risk of respiratory infection. However, for many parts, daily cleaning is recommended.
For an oral appliance, cleaning is easy. You can soak it in an approved cleaning solution when you take it out. Drop it in the solution in the morning, then take it out when you get home from work.
A CPAP machine has many parts. You’ve got at least the pump, the mask, and the hoses. Plus, there are often accessories like a humidifier and heater. You may also have specialized cleaning equipment. Taking all these with you when you travel means having a separate bag dedicated to your CPAP machine.
An oral appliance is small–about the size of a sports mouthguard. You can put it in your pocket when you travel.
No Need for Power
CPAP machines need power to run the pump that forces air down your throat. Standard CPAP machines plug into the wall, so you can only use them when you have access to power. This can be a problem if you’re like most Alaskans and enjoy spending time in the backcountry. It means being without sleep apnea treatment on a hunting, fishing, or camping trip, just when you most need your sleep.
You can get a battery-powered travel CPAP, but this will come out of your pocket–insurance won’t usually cover it–and it still means you need to carry extra batteries.
With oral appliances, you can be completely free from power.
Both oral appliances and CPAP are usually covered by insurance, which helps to make them more affordable. However, CPAP comes with a lot more costs. It has more equipment that needs to be replaced more frequently. While insurance covers much of the price, it doesn’t cover it all, which can lead to you paying a lot more out of pocket. There are other associated costs of CPAP that aren’t covered by insurance, too.
There is only one cost–the appliance–plus an inexpensive cleaning solution with an oral appliance.
The price difference is not slight. A 2021 analysis showed that CPAP costs about four times more than oral appliance therapy.
All the above benefits wouldn’t matter if oral appliance therapy didn’t work. However, numerous studies show that oral appliance therapy is about as effective as CPAP in treating obstructive sleep apnea–the most common type.
If you have severe sleep apnea or central sleep apnea, you might have to get CPAP, but anyone with mild or moderate sleep apnea will benefit from oral appliance therapy or CPAP.
Want Oral Appliance Therapy in Anchorage?
If you are looking for an alternative to CPAP for your sleep apnea treatment, let Anchorage sleep dentist Dr. Richard Crosby help. Please call today or use our online form today for an appointment at his dental office in Anchorage.