Please do not assume Dental Sleep Medicine of Northern Kentucky rejects the use of the CPAP (continuous positive air pressure). It is considered the “gold standard” for treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). CPAP, when used as recommended by your physician or sleep therapist, will control obstructive sleep apnea 100% of the time.
Dental Sleep Medicine of Northen Kentucky strongly recommends that you do everything you can to utilize your CPAP unit as recommended. However, there are times in certain patients when, despite everyone's best efforts, you cannot tolerate the CPAP unit. In medical terms, we describe that as a problem with compliance.
Compliance simply means that a patient is following their doctor’s orders to keep their disease problem under control. In the case of sleep apnea, it means that the patient is using the CPAP machine every night for the recommended number of hours as recommended life-long.
Multiple research articles have shown that CPAP compliance can be as low as 50% because of the discomfort of the mask, the inconvenience of the tubing and the necessity to find electrical outlets especially while travelling. Studies have indicated that as many as 25% to 54% of patients will discontinue their use of CPAP.
Treatments only work when used properly. Obstructive sleep apnea sufferers who do not wear their CPAP machines increase their risk of heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke and are drowsy during the day and fall asleep while driving. OSA sufferers who stop wearing CPAP often snore, gasp and choke loudly disturbing their bed partners placing a strain on relationships and marriages. There are ways to improve CPAP comfort and, if a CPAP has been recommended, they should be attempted before switching to an oral appliance. But if you are still uncomfortable and cannot tolerate CPAP, oral appliances are an approved, effective alternative.
Many of the common problems that people experience with CPAP are related to CPAP mask problems:
- The mask is uncomfortable
- The mask is taken off at night without knowing it
- The mask is taken off at night to use the bathroom and it’s too much bother to put it back on
- The mask irritates the skin and the nose
- Air in the stomach or sinuses
- The mask leaks air
- The pressure of the CPAP is bothersome
- The CPAP machine is too noisy to allow sleep
- The tubing gets in the way
- You just can’t get used to the mask
- The mask gives you a feeling of claustrophobia
- Your nose can be stuffy because of a cold or allergies
- The air is too hot, too cold or too dry
Whatever the reason, some people just cannot tolerate CPAP.