Sleep Apnea Oral Appliance Instead of a CPAP Machine

By Dr. Brett Silverman | Aug 24, 2020 | Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea Oral Appliance Instead of a CPAP Machine

(Last updated September 2023)

Many of our patients are interested in a sleep apnea oral appliance instead of a CPAP machine. It’s pretty common, actually. And so is sleep apnea.

In fact, sleep apnea affects millions of Americans and has become a serious health issue. The American Sleep Apnea Association states that “80% of the cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea are undiagnosed.”

This means that there are even more people suffering from sleep apnea than we know. 

Chances are you or someone you know is dealing with one of the three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, or complex sleep apnea syndrome.

Dr. Silverman, Dr. Morton and the team at Advanced Cosmetic and Family Dentistry are compassionate and experienced in helping patients who have sleep apnea.



What is sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea?

sleep-apnea-300x3002-1-3507454Sleep apnea occurs when the airway completely collapses while a person sleeps. During sleep, the lower jaw relaxes and the soft tissues in the throat region move into the airway space.

This collapse causes your airway to become blocked and the airflow into the lungs becomes limited. This is why sleep apnea patients oftentimes wake up coughing, gasping, or choking.

Let’s look at a common example.

Richards’s wife tells him quite often that he wakes up in the middle of the night gasping for air. His wife gets scared because he makes choking sounds. This frightens his wife, as you can imagine.

What is causing Richard’s gasping and choking sounds?

Richard doesn’t know and neither does his wife. All they know is that it’s frightening and it frequently wakes both of them up from a sound sleep.

This is a common scenario we hear from sleep apnea patients and their families.




Sleep Apnea Facts

  • Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing for several seconds during sleep. This forces the brain to “wake up” enough to force breathing, which prevents the sufferer from remaining in a deep, restful sleep.
  • Symptoms of sleep apnea may include heavy snoring, waking up in the middle of the night, choking in one’s sleep, and feeling tired or drowsy during the day.
  • There are three different types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed (or complex). Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, occurs when the airway becomes blocked. Often, this blockage is due to the collapse of tissue at the back of the throat.
  • Sleep apnea prevents sufferers from getting quality sleep. Because they are not well-rested, they are at risk for falling asleep while driving. In addition, people who do not get treatment for their sleep apnea are at risk for several health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and depression.



What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Unfortunately, many people don’t even know they have sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea. That is a serious problem in and of itself, considering how dangerous untreated OSA can be.

Since this is such a common condition, we want you to be aware of the symptoms it causes. Here are common symptoms of sleep apnea and OSA:

  • Snoring
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times
  • Sudden waking, choking, coughing, or gasping
  • Waking up at night feeling short of breath
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches upon waking up
  • Sleepiness while driving a vehicle
  • Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
  • Extreme drowsiness throughout the day

If you are experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment with our dentist (contact details can be found here).


Is sleep apnea a serious health condition?

Yes. Plain and simple.

How worried do you need to be if you’re experiencing a few of the symptoms mentioned earlier? Will the symptoms just go away on their own without treatment? Is sleep apnea a serious threat to my overall health?

These are all common questions regarding obstructive sleep apnea.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, it is best to start treatment right away. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems.

Actually, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute say that untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to:

  • a shorter life expectancy
  • falling asleep while driving or operating heavy machinery
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • impotence
  • diabetes
  • headaches
  • sore throat
  • obesity
  • heart failure
  • heart attack
  • bothering your bed partner while he/she is trying to sleep
  • increased rates on your life insurance policy
  • feeling miserable due to lack of sleep

As you can see, these are all serious health conditions. So when patients ask us whether or not sleep apnea is a serious health condition, our answer is a resounding “yes.”

So just remember, without accurate diagnosis and proper treatment, sleep apnea can pose serious health consequences.



How to treat or fix sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is diagnosed with a sleep study. Once a patient has been diagnosed, Dr. Silverman and Dr. Morton can provide an effective solution. Three treatment options include:

  • A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, used during sleep, provides continuous airflow to prevent the tissues at the back of the throat from collapsing.
  • A custom-created sleep apnea oral appliance can help keep the airway open through the night. This is oftentimes called Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). This non-invasive sleep apnea oral appliance is worn while sleeping to slightly push the tongue, lower jaw, soft palate, and uvula forward. This helps to prevent airway blockage, which means you will sleep much better and more soundly.
  • Oral Appliance Therapy is a wonderful option for those with a milder sleep apnea diagnosis. The oral appliance is removable and many patients report that the appliance feels similar to that of a retainer or mouthguard.
  • Some patients may benefit from undergoing surgery to remove extraneous tissue causing the airway blockage.

It is important to find a dentist who is properly trained and educated to diagnose and treat sleep apnea. Not every dentist can do this, but our dentists in Alpharetta can!

We work with each patient until a successful solution is found. If you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea symptoms, it’s important to seek treatment right away. With the right sleep apnea treatment, you can get the quality sleep you need.



Benefits of sleep apnea oral appliances instead of a CPAP machine

  • Oral appliances have high success rates.
  • Many patients choose an oral appliance versus a CPAP machine. The CPAP is bulky, cumbersome and inconvenient, not to mention a pain to travel with. On the other hand, an oral sleep apnea appliance is small and easy to pack in your luggage.
  • Using the oral appliance is easy. Just place it in your mouth before falling asleep and remove it when you wake up.
  • Cleaning your oral appliance is quick and simple.
  • An oral appliance for OSA is safe.
  • An oral sleep appliance can treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

Our patients have found great success with noninvasive, custom-made sleep apnea oral appliances. Find out more on our sleep apnea treatment page.



Ready for your sleep apnea oral appliance?

If you live in or near Alpharetta, GA and think you may have sleep apnea, but have yet to be diagnosed, call us.

If you have been recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and are looking for a solution that works, Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry can help.

By coming in for a consultation, we can create a custom-made appliance that will help you. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

We are conveniently located in Alpharetta, GA and our office phone number is (678) 737-8971.

Rest assured, we will help you get a peaceful night’s sleep!