While CPAP is still the gold standard for treating sleep apnea, there are some reasons why patients may not be able to tolerate the device. For one, they may be claustrophobic and can't tolerate a mask around their face. They may move around a lot in bed and it knocks it off. Also, there may be so much pressure being blown around their mouth, face and eyes. Dr. Mitch Conditt, a dentist in Fort Worth, Texas, who treats patients for sleep apnea, says the alternative to a CPAP device is a oral appliance built by a dentist, that can be used in conjunction with a CPAP. It allows the pressure of the CPAP to be turned down considerably so there's not so much being blown in your mouth and face.
For those that cannot tolerate the CPAP at all, an oral appliance is an alternative. For mild to moderate sleep apnea, an oral appliance has tremendous success and Dr. Conditt has even seen success with some of his severe sleep apnea patients.
A CPAP is 100% effective as long as you wear it, Dr. Conditt says and it forces air down your airway so the lungs get the amount of air they need. An oral appliance is fit in your mouth and using a computer, Dr. Conditt will determine just where your jaw should be. He says that when you lay down to fall asleep, your jaw falls back and the computer will find where you will have the maximum airway space. Once your jaw is positioned in that ideal spot, your airway is open but it's still up to the patient to breathe the air.
Dr. Conditt says that one should never use an oral appliance bought over the counter, as there's no comparison. Not only does it have no idea where your jaw should be placed, but it can cause TMJ problems because it's putting your jaw in a place it shouldn't be. An oral appliance should only be fabricated by a dentist after it's been determined exactly where your jaw should be and held in that place.
Most insurance companies will pay for a portion of the oral appliance and Dr. Conditt's staff will be able to work with your insurance company to determine what your benefits are.
Dr. Mitch Conditt is a dentist in Fort Worth, Texas and a leading sleep expert with Sleep Better TV, providing online, on-demand, sleep breathing disorder video content. Sleep Better TV is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.