Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea can have similar treatments because the cause is the same—partial or complete collapse of the airway. Treatment is focused on prevention of that collapse.
Continuous positive air pressure, or CPAP, treatment is typically used for patients with obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA as it is often called. This therapy delivers pressurized air by means of a mask or nasal cushions. This opens the airway like puffing into a balloon. There are a number of variations on this therapy such as bi-PAP and auto-PAP which fine tune the delivery of air according to the patient’s needs. The air passes through a humidifier providing more comfort to the patient. Many patients have excellent results with this therapy and significantly improve their quality of life.
Oral appliance therapy, or OAT, is appropriate for patients with snoring without obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and for those with mild or moderate OSA, or those with severe OSA that cannot tolerate CPAP. These services are performed by a dentist with special training in treating OSA. Oral appliances are either a mandibular advancement appliance or a tongue retaining device. Mandibular advancement appliances are far more common as they have much better results. They are custom made devices comprised of an upper and lower mouthpiece joined by some adjustable means to properly calibrate the appliance to the patient’s needs. The appliance works by hold the lower jaw in a forward position preventing the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, keeping the airway open during sleep and promoting adequate air intake. Off-the-shelf boil and bite appliances do not adequately grasp the teeth and are far more often ineffective than a custom made appliance. If an off-the-shelf appliance works for you then a custom appliance certainly will, but if an off the shelf appliance does not work for you a custom one very well may work for you.
There are many types of oral appliances available to treat snoring and sleep apnea. We are familiar with a number of different appliances and can help select the one best suited to a patient’s needs. We currently use Somnodent MAS, SUAD appliance, EMA appliance, Narval CC, and TAP 3.
These appliances do not work for everyone, and evaluation by a trained dentist to determine if it may will help in selection of the most appropriate appliance with the greatest chance of success.
Tongue retaining devices are less successful than mandibular advancement appliances and reserved for patients with few, or no teeth or a few other uncommon situations.
There are a number of surgical options to help control snoring and sleep apnea such as tonsillectomy, soft palate reduction, nasal surgery and a variety of other options. These are usually reserved for when other options have failed. These procedures are performed by an otolaryngologist or a maxillofacial surgeon.
This refers to such things as avoidance of alcohol near bedtime, losing weight, changing your sleeping position and smoking cessation.