Sleep apnea treatment doesn’t have to get ugly. You don’t necessarily have to wear a bulky continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask – a treatment option that is more evocative of protective gear from a sci-fi thriller than it is of medical equipment that exists to help you sleep – and you don’t necessarily need surgery.
Certainly for those with severe sleep apnea, CPAP, in particular, is considered to be the gold standard in sleep apnea treatment. But for those with mild to moderate sleep apnea there are other, more “come-hither” avenues that can be explored on your journey towards a more restful and healthier sleep.
The practice of Dental Sleep Medicine is a branch of dentistry dedicated to treating sleep apnea and snoring using oral appliances or, in more technical terms, “mandibular advancement devices” (MADs). Similar to the look of sports mouth guards, MADs are worn while you sleep to open the airway. When people with sleep apnea are asleep, their airways tend to become blocked, or partially blocked, by the soft tissue of their palate, which makes it difficult for air to get through to their lungs. The result is that those with the condition are never fully rested, feeling drowsy and groggy after nights of compromised breathing while asleep. MADs come to the rescue in that they work by repositioning a disordered sleeper’s jaw by guiding it forward and downwards, increasing the size of the airway for a more ventilated sleep. But they do so in a subtler manor than status quo sleep apnea treatments, like CPAP, which is why MADs are a sexier alternative!
3 Reasons Why MADs are a Sexy Sleep Apnea Solution
For starters, they are portable. Weighing in at under a pound, MADs are light-weight and can accompany you almost anywhere. Just slip your MAD into its little ergonomic case and off you go on that business trip, bachelorette weekend in Vegas or sleep over. CPAPs are heavy contraptions with a number of parts that have to come together to ensure its functionality. They may be the gold standard in sleep apnea treatment, but despite their celebrity in the sleep device world, CPAPs aren’t going for the sleek and slender look. You won’t be squeezing one into the carry-on luggage you bring on a romantic getaway any time soon!
The buzz around CPAP probably speaks more to the significant “buzz” that resonates from the machine once you turn it on for the night. It’s tough to whisper romantically into your sweetheart’s ear when you’re competing with the thunderous noise coming from an overly expressive night-time breathing machine. The only noise you’ll hear from an oral appliance, on the other hand, is the pleasing little “pop” that sounds once the device is secured properly to your teeth. Fortunately for those with severe sleep apnea who must rely on CPAP for a full night’s rest, the newer models that have been coming out of late are less noisy. But for many CPAP users, the audible humming of their breathing device falls very short of sexy. If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, consider a MAD for a silent, and potentially sensuous, sleep.
Steampunk is definitely a “look,” but wearing a gas mask-inspired breathing apparatus to bed each night, as one must do with a CPAP, may not be the bedtime look you were going for. For CPAP users, nights where you just want to spread out can be made claustrophobic with the rigid face mask that must be worn to deliver the machine’s forced air. Besides, it’s a pain to lean in for one last good night kiss when your lover’s lips are locked away behind a ventilation hose. Enter the oral appliance. When worn properly, MADs fit discretely in your mouth, for a more subtle nighttime appearance. Patients who use oral appliances for their sleep apnea often marvel at how comfortable their MAD is, especially those who have previously tried CPAP. More comfortable and more subtle means more sexy!
Before You Go MAD
Before you decide to go MAD, remember that the best way forward is to first talk to your dentist or physicians. It is important that you get properly fitted for an oral appliance if you are struggling with snoring or sleep apnea. There are many “cheap and easy” oral appliance solutions available on Amazon and lining the shelves of a pharmacy near you. But don’t be fooled by cheap and easy! It requires the skill and training of a dental professional to properly fit MADs for optimal performance.
If you have severe sleep apnea, you may have to give CPAP a try before pursuing oral appliance therapy, which is considered second-line treatment for severe sleep apnea sufferers who are non-CPAP compliant. To get the safe and effective help you need with your sleep disordered breathing, you must engage with a sleep physician or dentist who is trained to treat sleep apnea.
And once you do, get ready for a better night’s sleep with your sexier sleep apnea solution!