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“Are Oral Devices to Treat Sleep Apnea just the Flavor of the Month?”

By Dr. Kevin Stock DDS
cpap treatmentLast week I had a patient in for a consultation about perhaps using an oral device to treat her sleep apnea.  She explained how many of her friends were now wearing an oral appliance instead of the C-PAP machines that they couldn’t tolerate.  She mentioned during the consultation that she was curious if these oral devices were just the “flavor of the month” or if an oral device really could be a solution for her.

“Flavor of the Month?”
I assured this patient that oral appliance therapy for the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is not a flavor of the month treatment, and told her not to take my word for it…

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, oral appliances are recommended as a first line treatment option for mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and for people with severe sleep apnea who struggle with C-PAP or are not candidates for C-PAP machines.

Moreover, oral appliances are covered under most health insurance policies.  This came about after a large body of research was done on oral appliance therapy that demonstrated its efficacy.  Not only are these oral appliances effective, but research has shown that people much prefer them to the traditional C-PAP machines.

“So I can use a simple Oral Device instead of a C-PAP machine?”
I am all in favor of C-PAP machines as long as the patient can wear it.  C-PAP therapy works.  The problem with the C-PAP machines is that most people struggle with them, cannot tolerate them, and many completely give up on trying to use it.  For many people, this struggle is unnecessary.  A simple oral device can be custom fabricated and adjusted to treat their sleep apnea.  With an oral device there is no mask, hoses, or unyielding air pressure.  Plus, they are extremely convenient, especially for travelers, hikers, and for anyone who may not be sleeping in the same place day in and day out.

“What about snoring?”
Oral devices are very effective at treating snoring.  I tell patients that with an oral device we hope to achieve ~7 point decrease on scale of 1-10 of snoring loudness.  For example if a patient is a heavy snorer, let’s say a loudness of 9 out of 10, we would expect to decrease that loudness to a 2 out of 10, or what might sound like moderate/heaving breathing.

“So there are Oral Devices and C-PAP machines, are there any other options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?”
Depending on the severity of the apnea, there are several treatment options. Traditionally, continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP) machines have been a first line of treatment. The CPAP machine provides a constant stream of air pumping through a hose and mask that keeps your airway splinted open. For those who can tolerate the mask, hoses, and air pressure, CPAP is a very effective treatment in which patients often experience immediate symptom relief and a boost in mental and physical energy.

Then as we have talked about, Oral Devices are another treatment option.  Besides Oral Appliance Therapy and C-PAP machines there are surgical options, lifestyle modifications (weight loss, positional therapy, etc.), and nasal devices.

“I’ve used CPAP and I can’t stand it. How do I see if an Oral Device is appropriate for me?”
It is still a common belief that if you have sleep apnea you are doomed to a C-PAP machine for life.  However, what many people do not realize is that there are other treatment options – such as oral devices fabricated by dentists with advanced training in Dental Sleep Medicine.  Frequently, oral devices are much more tolerable, convenient, and comfortable.  They are a first line treatment for mild and moderate OSA as well as recommended for patients who are intolerant to the CPAP machine (for all severities).

At Sleep Right Dental, we dedicate the entire practice to exclusively treating sleep apnea with oral devices.  Statistically, over 50% of people prescribed a C-PAP machine cannot tolerate it, and from anecdotal experience, a large portion of those who can tolerate it would prefer alternative treatment.

Today, I want to highlight that if you have sleep apnea, you have options.
C-PAP is great for a certain portion of people that have sleep apnea, but it’s not for everyone.  If you struggle with C-PAP or flat out don’t want to wear it, you should consider a consultation with a dentist who has advanced training in dental sleep medicine – treating sleep apnea with oral devices.

At Sleep Right Dental, we have the privilege of tacking this serious sleep disorder, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, head on by treating sleep apnea with Oral Devices.  If you would like more information about Sleep Apnea, Treatment, Oral Devices, or have any questions at all please do not hesitate to give us a call (314) 292-5452, or personally shoot me an email at kevin@sleeprightdental.com

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, share it, and take your health seriously,

Dr. Kevin Stock DDS

P.S.
If you struggle with your C-PAP machine or think you may have sleep apnea, right now we are offering all new patients a complimentary consultation.  At the consultation we will discuss sleep apnea, treatment options, and see if an Oral Device is appropriate for you.

Thanks again,

Kevin

Sleep Right Dental
4390 Green Ash Dr,
Earth City, MO 63045
(314) 292-5452
www.sleeprightdental.com

Dr. Kevin Stock, DDS is a graduate of UMKC School of Dentistry. Upon graduation he immediately found a passion for treatment of the most undiagnosed, untreated serious medical condition in this nation – Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Due to the “broken medical model” for the diagnosis and treatment of OSA, Dr. Stock found Sleep Right Dental with the mission of eradicating sleep apnea in St. Louis.

At Sleep Right Dental, Dr. Stock treats sleep apnea with Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) has traditionally been treated with a C.P.A.P. machine; however, over half of the people prescribed a C.P.A.P. don’t like it, don’t use it, and have been switching over to a new dental device. This device (OAT) is custom made and designed and slowly programmed to keep your airway open while you sleep. Sleep apnea has become the most undiagnosed (90% of people with OSA are undiagnosed), untreated serious medical condition in the United States. Sleep Right Dental is on a mission to change this starting right here in St. Louis, as we are the only practice in St. Louis (and one of a few in the country) that solely treats sleep apnea with OAT.