CPAP is an acronym for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It is to date the gold standard in treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). There are other ways of treating OSA, depending on the severity. They are worth mentioning and do have a place in the treatment of OSA. CPAP however, despite all of the newest procedures, fads and gadgets, has remained the most effective in treating moderate to severe OSA.
Dental appliances are the most well-known alternative to CPAP. They work by advancing your lower jaw thereby making the opening to your airway larger. This helps to prevent mild snoring and mild OSA. There are many variations of dental appliances, from mouth guards to boil-in-bag devices. Tongue Stabilization Devices have also emerged, which either depress the tongue or pull it forward to keep the airway clear.
As with anything, there are pros and cons to using these devices, so it is important to see the right people who are best aware of the issues. Dentists and/or oral surgeons are the experts in the field and should be consulted for more information. Some dentists are more experienced than others in using dental appliances for sleep health. They are an alternative for people who snore but don’t have OSA, or have mild to low moderate OSA. They can also be used if people are intolerant to CPAP or want an option for short term travel.
There are surgical alternatives for OSA treatment as well. These can be as straightforward as office-based procedures performed by physicians (Pillar Implants) to short stay hospital based procedures (nasal surgeries) to major surgery requiring hospitalization and lengthy recovery time. Your family physician is a good source of information and can direct you appropriately. We can also help to answer any questions.
When faced with using CPAP, visions of sleepless nights being tethered to a loud machine come to mind and the thought of pursuing it becomes less and less likely. The reality is that CPAP machines are the size of a tissue box and are extremely quiet, especially to those who are used to listening to loud snoring all night. CPAP machines treat OSA by using air to splint or prop the airway open. This allows you to keep breathing throughout the night, which enablinges a healthy sleep. The reason CPAP has remained the gold standard for OSA treatment is because it addresses all areas of the airway. Other treatments address specific areas of the nose, throat or tongue. CPAP addresses all areas, making it a very successful therapy, no matter where the obstruction is occurring.