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CPAP Vs. Oral Appliance Therapy

man snoring in bedIf you suffer from chronic snoring or sleep apnea, CPAP machines and oral appliances are the two most common forms of treatment. So how do you and your doctor decide which is the best treatment for your needs?

In this blog, Dr. Marc Levin of eos dental sleep explains the pros and cons of CPAP vs. oral appliance therapy for the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea.

How are sleep apnea and snoring linked?

Chronic snoring can be a sign that you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious sleep disorder that’s characterized by multiple pauses in breathing during sleep.

These pauses can last for several seconds to minutes in length and may occur hundreds of times each night. OSA can result in serious symptoms such as excessive daytime fatigue and also increase your risk of developing certain chronic health conditions, including heart disease.

Snoring occurs when the tissues in the back of the throat relax and partially block the airway, causing a vibrating sound when you breathe during sleep. OSA is also caused by a blockage of the airway, so if you have this type of sleep apnea, you almost always snore.

What are the treatment options?

Sleep apnea and snoring that’s associated with this disorder are often treated by using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or an oral appliance. In severe cases, surgery is sometimes necessary, but will only be recommended after conservative treatments have failed to provide relief. In most cases, either CPAP or an oral appliance are the first methods of treatment that are prescribed.

CPAP Therapy - This treatment involves using a machine which is hooked up to a mask as you sleep. It delivers a steady stream of air pressure in your throat so your airway doesn’t collapse as you breathe during sleep.

Oral Appliance Therapy - This treatment involves using a custom-made oral device, which is similar to a mouth guard that’s used in sports. It helps to stabilize and position your jaw and tongue slightly forward to help keep your airway open.

What are the pros and cons of each type of OSA treatment?

You may find one type of treatment more comfortable and effective than the other. Many patients find CPAP difficult to use on a nightly basis. If you’re having trouble using or remaining compliant with your therapy, ask your doctor what your other treatment options are, which may include switching to an oral appliance for snoring.

The pros and cons of CPAP and oral appliances include the following.


Pros of CPAP

  • Non-surgical snoring and sleep apnea treatment
  • Clinically proven to be an effective way to treat snoring and sleep apnea for patients who are compliant with treatment
  • Mask and apparatus can be customized to your unique needs

Cons of CPAP

  • Many people find the CPAP mask and air pressure to be uncomfortable
  • Can cause dry nose and sore throat
  • Can cause irritation of the skin around the mask
  • Can cause nasal congestion and runny nose
  • Can be a nuisance to transport for nights spent away from home
  • Operating noises from machine may impact the sleep of a bed partner

Oral Appliance Therapy

Pros of Oral Appliance Therapy

  • Non-surgical snoring and sleep apnea treatment
  • Clinically proven to be an effective way to treat snoring and sleep apnea for patients who are compliant with treatment
  • Small device is custom-made and easy to wear, with most patients finding the device comfortable to adjust to and use on a nightly basis
  • Unlike CPAP, oral appliances make no noise
  • Involves no clunky parts and equipment, making it easier to sleep with and easier to travel with
  • Easy to care for and clean
  • Oral appliance therapy has higher compliance rates than CPAP therapy

Cons of Oral Appliance Therapy

  • Some patients report soreness in their jaw, teeth, or gums when using the device or when initially adjusting to the treatment
  • May cause excessive salivation for some patients

If you snore, are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, or if you have been struggling to use CPAP, make an appointment today with eos dental sleep. We specialize in oral appliance therapy and can help you get a good night’s sleep that will improve the way you feel, as well as your overall health.