Combined CPAP & Oral Appliance Therapy
When it comes to sleep apnea, there’s no one solution that’s the perfect fit for every single patient in need of help. Depending on the severity of your condition, oral appliance therapy or CPAP therapy alone may be enough to provide effective treatment, but this isn’t always the case. In certain situations, Dr. Claire Haag and the rest of our team may recommend combined oral appliance and CPAP therapy for superior comfort and relief.
At the Dental Sleep Apnea Center at Pioneer Greens Dentistry, we want to help devise the perfect sleep apnea treatment plan for you that benefits not only your rest, but your overall wellbeing and quality of life as well. Patients from Prairie Home, NE and surrounding areas are encouraged to contact us today to schedule their complimentary consultation!
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) relies on the use of a mask that covers the nose and/or mouth, consistently forcing air down the throat so that patients don’t experience disruptive pauses in breathing. By maintaining the proper levels of oxygen, you’re able to sleep throughout the night with minimal interruptions. Today, many patients still find the predictable and effective relief they need from CPAP treatment – however, there is a significant problem associated with its use. The uncomfortable noises and sensations associated with CPAP treatment result in high intolerance rates. While some patients can successfully adjust to these conditions after a couple of weeks of diligent use, others forgo treatment entirely.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is recommended by both the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as the ideal initial treatment option for patients who struggle with constant snoring (but not sleep apnea), mild to moderate OSA, or CPAP intolerance. The customized device is designed to shift the patient’s jaw and place a slight amount of pressure on the soft tissue and tongue. This keeps their airway unobstructed and allows air to flow freely in and out, resulting in quality, uninterrupted rest. Oral appliances offer several benefits to patients – they’re comfortable, convenient, and easy to travel with. However, oral appliances may not be effective for some people, especially those who suffer from severe apnea.
By combining the individual benefits of both oral appliance therapy and CPAP treatment, patients can experience truly exceptional results. To achieve the same level of improvement with one option alone, patients would need to use CPAP on the highest setting possible, which is very difficult for patients to adapt to; in fact, CPAP can cause unpleasant side-effects like headaches and dry mouth on that high of a setting. Alternatively, combined therapy helps to eliminate sleep apnea events while the CPAP runs on a much lower setting, reducing patient dissatisfaction and improving compliance rates. Even the most extreme cases of sleep apnea can experience the highest levels of relief possible with combined therapy – and better yet, because the oral appliance is so easy to transport, patients never have to go completely without treatment while on vacation or traveling for business.
Is Combined Therapy Right For Me?
Combined therapy may be extremely effective, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for every single patient who comes through our door. During your initial complimentary consultation, Dr. Claire will review your diagnostic information/sleep tests and make a personalized recommendation. Our team often recommends combined therapy when faced with the following circumstances:
- When patients have proven to be intolerant to traditional CPAP treatment.
- When patients have used an oral appliance in the past to treat their sleep apnea but were unable to achieve the level of relief they needed.
- When patients have undergone CPAP treatment in the past as a solution to sleep apnea but were unable to achieve the level of relief they needed.
The Valuable Benefits of Combined Therapy
Combined therapy from Dr. Claire and the rest of our team here in Lincoln, NE can truly provide patients with a world of good. Potential benefits include the following:
- Better Convenience – Patients who frequently travel by plane for business or pleasure are likely to leave their CPAP machine at home for understandable reasons. The bulky system is difficult to transport and carry, not to mention you need a significant amount of distilled water to power it properly. Thankfully, patients using combined therapy are able to conveniently bring their oral appliance with them for valuable support and more comfortable sleep.
- More Comfort – When undergoing combined therapy, patients only need to wear a nasal mask that’s less intrusive than the typical overall facial mask with thick straps. The oral appliance will keep your airway clear and open, allowing the CPAP pressure to flow freely and provide effective improvements on a much lower setting than usual.
- Increased Compliance – Because of the reduction in both noise level and discomfort, patients are much more likely to use their oral appliance and CPAP machine together on a routine basis. This is crucial because consistent, diligent treatment plans are the only way to reverse the damage your overall health has experienced because of sleep apnea and ensure that patients achieve the high quality of sleep they need.
- Bolstered Effectiveness – Several studies have shown us that combined therapy significantly reduces the amount of patient-experienced apnea episodes (when breathing ceases for 10 or more seconds) and hypopnea episodes (breathing that is excessively shallow and slow) each night, as well as feelings of exhaustion/fatigue the following morning. According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, patient that underwent no treatment at all had an average of 6.6 episodes each night. Alternatively, patients using CPAP treatment experienced 4.4 episodes, while those using combined therapy had an even greater reduction at 2.6. On the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, patients with untreated cases of sleep apnea scored a 12 on average, while oral appliance users scored a 9 and combined therapy users scored a 7. These results are clear – combined therapy improves the effectiveness of both traditional CPAP treatment and customized oral appliance therapy to maximum levels.
Lifelong Relief Is Waiting For You
Have you tried CPAP therapy but have been unable to comply with treatment? Are you disappointed with the effects of oral appliance therapy? Please don’t hesitate to contact the Dental Sleep Apnea Center at Pioneer Greens Dentistry today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Claire and the rest of our team. We’ll review your past treatments and sleep test results to determine whether or not combined therapy might be the best course of action. Our goal is to help you finally achieve the good night’s rest you deserve!