The most common alternative to a CPAP device when treating sleep apnea is an oral appliance, which is a piece of plastic that fits over the lower teeth to reposition the lower jaw forward to remove the tongue from the back of the throat. This allows the air to move in and out so a person can breath while sleeping.
Dr. Gary Radz, a dentist in Denver, Colorado, says that the over the counter oral appliances are "pretty risky," as you're relying on someone with no medical background to fit those things. They're bulky, uncomfortable and more often than not, they're not even effective. The danger with them is there can be a false sense of security because the snoring associated with sleep apnea may decrease some but they still have sleep apnea, which leads them to a downward spiral of poor health.
When Dr. Radz makes an oral appliance for his patients, they are fitted very exactly and he works with the patient and sleep lab to find the optimal position for the lower jaw to allow for the most amount of air to go in and out. There's a significant benefit for a dentist to do this in measuring and being able to tell if it's working vs. someone doing this on their own and not getting the results they're looking for.
Dr. Radz says that an oral appliance can be covered by medical insurance and his staff works with patients to be sure they get the maximum benefits allowed under their plan and minimize the expense to the patient.
Dr. Gary Radz is a leading sleep expert with Sleep Better TV, a featured network of Sequence Media Group. Dr. Radz practices dentistry in Denver, Colorado at Cosmetic Dentistry of Colorado. Sleep Better TV provides online, on-demand, sleep breathing disorder video content.