Treatment Options for Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliances are placed in the mouth and are worn much like an orthodontic appliance or sports mouth protector. Worn during sleep to prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, oral appliances promote adequate air intake and help to provide normal sleep in people who snore and have sleep apnea.
Oral appliances can be used as the first-line therapy for patients who have been diagnosed with mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea, or severe obstructive sleep apnea that cannot tolerate their prescribed CPAP. They can also be used in conjunction with other therapies such as continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). Oral appliance therapy is the only sleep therapy that we offer at The Center for TMJ and Sleep Apnea.
CPAP (continuous positive air pressure applied through a nasal mask) is the most common and standard form of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The CPAP machine consists of a face or nasal mask that is connected to a pump, providing a positive flow of air into the nasal passages in order to keep the airway open. This pressure ensures that the airway doesn't collapse during sleep. CPAP is recommended as the first line of treatment for patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea if the patient is able to tolerate it. Patients with mild-to-moderate sleep apnea can usually choose which therapy they would prefer.
While not considered as the first line of treatment for snoring or sleep apnea, surgery may be an effective option for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP or oral appliance therapy. With many surgical options available, it is up to the surgeon to find where the obstruction is in the patient’s upper airway or nasal passage and determine what the best solution is.
Other Therapy Attempts
Many people’s first attempt at addressing health issues is to see if lifestyle adjustments will improve their condition. Snoring can sometimes be improved by losing weight, limiting smoking and alcohol intake, or avoiding sedatives. In some patients, snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are related to sleeping on one's back. In these instances, improvements can be seen by sleeping on the side rather than the back.