Why Use CPAP If You Can Use OATs?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects more than 18 million Americans, and according to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, many of them suffer through the problem undiagnosed. A potentially life-threatening sleep disorder, apnea episodes stop regular breathing during sleep (read more about it on our sleep apnea page). The most common symptoms are snoring and a constant feeling of being tired. While many clinicians recommend Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy, the Sacramento Dentistry Group encourages our patients with sleep apnea to consider handling their condition with OATs. What is OAT and why do our Sacramento sleep apnea dentists recommend it over CPAP?
CPAP Compared to OAT
The CPAP treatment system combines a face mask with a machine that creates a constant flow of air through the breathing passages. Imagine the type of equipment worn by a jet pilot to provide oxygen and you get the idea. Now think about sleeping while wearing the mask and being hooked up by hoses to a pump regulating air pressure. As you can imagine, CPAP is noisy and uncomfortable for many patients. While it generally works well for treating sleep apnea, more than half the patients who should use CPAP stop wearing the machine within a year. That is dangerous and unhealthy.
What if those patients could solve their sleep apnea problem by wearing an oral appliance that looks and feels like an ordinary mouthguard? Such devices exists and their use is called OAT.
OAT — You Don’t Eat It, You Wear It
OAT stands for Oral Appliance Therapy. The oral appliance is made from a soft, somewhat flexible plastic, similar to what you wear with a mouthguard for sports, a nightguard for teeth grinding or the aligners used with Invisalign. It gently pulls the lower jaw forward while you sleep, which keeps your airway open without the use of pumps and air masks. The American Sleep Apnea Association explains its use this way:
“You can simulate the effect of an oral appliance with a simple experiment. If you make a snoring sound right now and, in the middle of it, thrust your jaw forward, you will see that the snoring sound stops.”
The first step in using an oral appliance for sleep apnea is an examination and consultation with one of our Sacramento dentists to determine if your sleep apnea problem can be solved with an oral appliance. You may also meet with our sleep apnea specialist and office manager Jay Kim. If OAT seems right for you, an impression of your teeth and jaws is taken, either digitally or with a mold, and a custom-fit oral appliance is created for you personally by a dental technical lab. When it arrives, we show you how to wear it, use it and keep it clean. You get to enjoy a full night’s sleep and your family will probably welcome the end to your snoring!
To explore the possibility of solving sleep apnea with dentistry and oral appliances, contact the Sacramento Dentistry Group at (916) 538-6900, use our website or stop by our convenient downtown office at 1105 E Street. We look forward to helping you— and those around you — get a good night’s sleep with Oral Appliance Therapy for sleep apnea!