When you hear the words 'sleep apnea,' you probably immediately picture a person wearing a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine. If that makes you cringe, because the thought of using a CPAP machine sounds uncomfortable or scary, you're not alone. Millions of Americans living with sleep apnea are not being treated for their condition because they don't want to wear a CPAP or don't like how the CPAP makes them feel. But, did you know that the CPAP is not the only treatment for sleep apnea?

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep-breathing disorder that affects 20 million people in the United States. Sleep apnea is characterized by interruptions in breathing during sleep. These interruptions are frequently caused by the muscles of the throat collapsing to block the airway or the tongue falling back to block breathing because the lower jaw is set too far back.

Many of those individuals living with sleep apnea go untreated because they do not want to use a CPAP machine. Many people feel the CPAP is loud, uncomfortable or causes feelings of claustrophobia.

Living with untreated sleep apnea is dangerous and can contribute to serious health problems and increase the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. But fortunately, CPAP is not the only treatment option! Here are some alternatives you may not know about it.

Changing Sleep Position. Changing your sleep position, also known as positional therapy, may help relieve sleep apnea if you're prone to breathing interruption while sleeping on your back. Positional therapy can involve wearing different devices that force you to sleep on your side.

Think About Weight. In some cases, sleep apnea can be caused by excess tissue on the throat that puts pressure on the airway. In this instance, losing weight may help, but there is no guarantee that weight loss can reduce or eliminate sleep apnea.

Surgery. Some people living with sleep apnea opt for surgery to eliminate excess throat tissue to prevent it from blocking the airway. Surgery for sleep apnea may be complicated or minimally invasive but varies from patient to patient. It is essential to remember that there is a risk of complications and recovery time to consider, like with any surgery.

Try an Oral Appliance. Oral appliance therapy has been proven to be an excellent and successful alternative to using a CPAP machine. Oral appliances for sleep apnea are custom-fit to move your jaw into the correct position to stop your tongue from falling back to block your airway and obstruct breathing.

Oral appliances are also often preferred because they are silent and very comfortable. Oral appliance therapy is an ideal alternative for individuals with mild to moderate sleep apnea who do not want or cannot tolerate a CPAP.

Are you living with untreated sleep apnea? Want to avoid a CPAP? Find out how we can help. Call Legends Dental at 254-799-9540 now.