Three primary types ofmedical treatment are used to relieve the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea(OSA). These include surgery, CPAP therapy and oral appliance therapy. We willbegin the discussion with the option most doctors recommend only after tryingother treatment methods.
Of the three, the surgicaloption is not only the most complex and invasive, but it also shows mixedresults, both in terms of initial relief and long-term effectiveness. Studiesshow that in as many as half of all cases, the benefits of surgery for OSAdiminish or disappear within five to ten years. Before undergoing any surgicalprocedures for OSA relief, it is advised that patients seek out several opinionsand learn all they can about the risks, benefits and success rates of theprocedure that is being suggested. If other options do not solve the sleepapnea problem, the oral surgeons atcanpresent the easiest procedures from improving your airways.
For a number of years, the most commonly prescribed medical treatment for OSA has been CPAP therapy. This is an abbreviation for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. In simple terms, an air pump is attached to a supply tube and face mask that fits over the nose, or the nose and mouth. The CPAP system delivers pressurized air to the sleeper, which keeps their airway from collapsing. When the air pressure is balanced properly, and the mask fits securely, a CPAP system provides significant relief from OSA symptoms.
Unfortunately, many people who are put on CPAP don’t like the feel of breathing pressurized air, the fit of the mask, or the maintenance and equipment replacement requirements of the system. These dislikes lead to a problem known as non-compliance, and studies show that about fifty percent of CPAP therapy patients stop using it within the first six months. When they stop treatment, all their sleep apnea symptoms soon return.
A third option for OSAtreatment comes from the growing field of dental sleep medicine. Oral ApplianceTherapy (OAT) works with the body’s own physiology to prevent the tongue fromblocking the airway, and holds the airway open by gently advancing and cradlingthe lower jaw. This is accomplished using a compact mouthguard-like device thatis worn during sleep. Some oral appliances actually reshape the jaws and airwayover time, using the body’s own growth mechanisms to increase the volume of theair passage.
Inthe past, oral appliances were regarded as a secondary recourse for patientswho rejected CPAP therapy. More studies on the comparative effectiveness of thetwo systems are now confirming that oral appliances are a viable first optionfor many OSA patients.believes that oralappliance therapy offers a higher rate of compliance, the quietest nights andthe best long-term solution. Read more about the OAT option on the ORAL APPLAINCES page.