Sleep Apnea and Its Dangers

Sleep apnea is a condition when your breathing stops at night. In order to resume breathing, your brain has to awaken slightly. This can happen hundreds of times a night, even if you don’t know it. You just wake up in the morning feeling like you didn’t sleep–because you didn’t ever reach the deep levels of restorative sleep.

The combination of sleep deprivation and periodic oxygen shortage is bad for your brain and body. Studies have linked sleep apnea to an increased risk of many dangerous, even deadly conditions, including:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Dementia (including early onset Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Car accidents
  • Depression, anxiety, and suicide

Looking at the list, it’s easy to see how the combination of risks leads to a fourfold increase in mortality. Studies show that when successfully treated, these risks diminish. Unfortunately, only about half of people prescribed CPAP actually use it. It’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. That’s why it’s important for people to have another option for treating this deadly condition, so we offer oral appliance therapy.

Problems with CPAP

CPAP is the leading therapy for sleep apnea, and when it’s used, it’s almost 100% effective. The problem is that over time, less than half of all people prescribed the treatment actually use it for the recommended time (at least four hours a night on 70% of nights). That’s because CPAP comes with many daily annoyances, some more serious than others, including:

  • Difficult daily maintenance
  • Irritation of nose, mouth, and throat
  • Feelings of confinement and claustrophobia
  • Feeling suffocated
  • Skin irritation
  • Acne
  • Gassiness and bloating
  • Inconvenience for travel

For some people, the daily nuisance of CPAP makes them stop using it over time. Others find they simply can’t use it at all because of the way sensations of being smothered keeps them from sleeping. This is an especially big problem for people with PTSD.

And even people who use CPAP at home find that transporting the machine, hoses, mask, and accessories is a big nuisance, while an oral appliance from the dentist at Country Club Dentistry can be easily tucked into your pocket.

No. Oral appliance therapy is considered a frontline treatment for most sleep apnea. We can help if your doctor doesn’t know about oral appliances or is reluctant to prescribe it.

Yes. It is a proven treatment, and most insurance companies cover it for most cases of sleep apnea.

How Oral Appliance Therapy Works

Most sleep apnea is obstructive. In this type of sleep apnea, your airway collapses at night when you lie down and your muscles relax as you fall asleep. CPAP combats this by forcing air down your throat to push the airway open. It’s an unnatural mechanism, so it’s no wonder that people have difficulty with it.

Oral appliance therapy works by repositioning your jaw. The jaw is the main bony support for your airway, and most of us developed larger and more forward jaws in the past that helped keep our airway open. This natural mechanism feels more comfortable and works well for most people.

An Alternative Sleep Apnea Treatment in Coachella Valley

If you have tried CPAP and you hate it, or you’d rather not try CPAP at all, we can help. We offer an alternative to CPAP that is more comfortable and convenient. Please call (760) 832-7915 today for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Rod Strober at Country Club Dentistry in Rancho Mirage.