The continuous positive airway pressure machine, or simply CPAP, is truly the gold standard for treatment of patients with sleep apnea. CPAP is the most widely used sleep apnea treatment method because, when a patient can comply with the treatment, it works. The patient wears a mask connected to a machine via an air hose that delivers a continuous, steady flow of air throughout the night. Patients who actually use a CPAP machine never have to worry about breathing at night.
Even though the CPAP is the go-to treatment for sleep apnea, many patients do not comply with usage. Among other issues, patients who are fitted with a CPAP often complain of discomfort and noise. Others complain about rashes caused by the mask or frustration with the straps that hold the mask in place.
For those patients who do not tolerate CPAP treatment, there are alternative treatment methods. Oral appliance therapy, or OAT, has long been recognized throughout the dental world as the best alternative treatment, especially for those diagnosed with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliances are mouthpieces worn at night. Such appliances move the lower jaw forward, allowing more room for the soft tissues of the throat and opening up the airway.