If one was to choose the most distressing symptom of sleep apnea, it could easily be the recurrent breathlessness that makes the patient gasp and choke during sleep. It is no wonder that the primary aim of any doctor treating such a patient is to restore normal breathing, as quickly and as efficiently as possible. This critical goal can be achieved only with breathing assistance from CPAP machines.
Before you understand how these devices work, it makes sense to get some basic information about the therapy.
CPAP is the short form for Continuous Positive Air Pressure. Essentially, the therapy involves providing artificial ventilation by way of pumping in pre-measured pressurized air directly into the lungs of the patient to keep the airways open during sleep. It is recognized as one of the most effective methods to control breathlessness caused by sleep apnea.
Working mechanism of these apnea devices
The equipment consists of several components: the pressurized air generating device, the mask, worn over the nose, mouth or full face that acts as a conduit to carry the air into the lungs and hose that connect the device to the mask.
Apnea episodes are caused when the airway collapses during sleep. Thus the basic job of the machine is to supply pressurized air on a continuous basis in order to prevent any such collapse of the airway, which in turn allows the patient to have restful sleep with obstruction-free breathing.
The therapy may not suit everyone
Despite its high success rate and efficacy, not many people find this therapy option suitable. By way of alternative therapy option, doctors often recommend sleep apnea dental devices. Such devices are worn within the oral cavity and it requires the assistance from a dentist to get them fitted within the mouth.
Non-invasive nature of the fitment and convenience of use are the two main reasons why such appliances have gained popularity.
Before deciding to use such devices one has to remember certain key points. They work only when the cause of the illness demands their use. For example, the mouth guard, another name for a dental appliance for sleep apnea works only when there is a problem with the tongue or jaw alignment.
Mouth guard for sleep apnea: you have options to choose from
There are two types of apnea devices that can prevent the airway open during sleep and prevent it from collapsing and blocking normal airflow.
– Tongue retaining devices
– Mandibular(related to jaw) advancing or repositioning devices
Mode of action
– The tongue retainer aims to reposition the tongue in an anterior position. This prevents the tongue from receding backwards and blocking the airway during sleep. These also simultaneously bring the lower jaw forward complementing the tongue retaining function. A typical device is fitted with a suction bulb that holds the tip of the tongue to the teeth or the lips.
– The mandibular advancing or repositioning device works by advancing the lower jaw slightly to keep the airway open during sleep. Simultaneously this device also holds the tongue by several millimeters.
Much like the CPAP machines these also have drawbacks:
– Excess salivation
– Soreness of tongue
– Feeling of abnormal bite