A Patient Perspective of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Treatment Options
Published on Aug 26, 2016
Dr. Pankaj P. Singh

Often times, patients enter a doctor or dentist’s office with one specific issue and find that they actually may be have undiagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is a very dangerous condition to leave undiagnosed and untreated as there are many risks associated with it including Diabetes, Stroke, High Blood Pressure, and Obesity. The most common therapies are Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) for mild-to-moderate OSA, and the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine for moderate-to-severe OSA. Some people with moderate-to-severe OSA find they cannot tolerate the CPAP machine and choose to use OAT instead.

At Arch Dental, we have seen several clients come in with issues like grinding their teeth only to find out that undiagnosed OSA may also be at play. Take Susan R. for instance, she came to us for help with her teeth grinding. After we recommended she perform an at-home sleep study, she found she had mild OSA. Susan opted for to be fitted for an Oral Appliance for her OSA therapy. After a week’s time, she reported not only that she was feeling more well-rested, but she was sleeping six connected hours!

CPAP machines are probably the most well-known therapy for sleep apnea, but patients often have trouble tolerating them and consistent usage declines, or they just stop therapy all together which is a very dangerous choice. Here is Jessica’s experience on her struggle with her CPAP machine:

 “When I was diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea, I was put on CPAP therapy immediately without so much as a consult as to what options I had. Being an asthmatic, I was naturally wary of sleeping in a mask. The first week of therapy I didn’t get much sleep because I had a difficult time actually falling asleep as you cannot take sleep medication with a CPAP. I also found I would take off the mask in the middle of the night without knowing it.

 There's also been some freakish accidents like having water squirted up my nose out of the blue for a few nights without any real reason as to why the machine did it. It performed fountain-worthy feats for three nights straight and then never did it again. I also found that the mask straps upset my delicate facial skin and cause breakouts regardless of how often I clean them. That is the other thing, maintenance! I have to clean certain parts of the machine daily, other parts weekly, and then replace various parts of the machine on a monthly basis. From a financial standpoint, there are the monthly rental and upkeep costs of the machine, replacement orders, and also keeping gallons of distilled water on hand for the humidifier function. It is a lot of maintenance for something I still can’t tolerate wearing for more than four hours per night after five months of use.”

 Often times patients who cannot tolerate the CPAP machine choose to try OAT to great results. Many of our clients say that they find the appliances comfortable and they were able to get accustomed to them quickly and easily.

 Remember, OSA is a very serious condition so it is important to know your options and find a treatment plan that works for you!


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