One of Kansas City’s most unique attractions is the Steamboat Arabia Museum. This attraction, voted “Favorite Kansas City Hidden Gem” by Visit KC, is a fascinating time capsule of items from the pioneer days when Kansas City was an important stopover for settlers and cargo headed West. When the steamboat crashed in 1856, over 200 tons of freight were buried in the river mud, where it was wonderfully preserved until it was excavated in the late 1980s. 

The sleep apnea treatment sleep dentist Dr. Prabu Raman can give you, is as unique as the Steamboat Arabia Museum. His treatment approach to oral sleep appliance therapy is unique in that he brings his expertise and experience in treating TMD, to treating sleep as well.  He utilizes his protocol to relax jaw, face and neck muscles first before diagnosing the jaw position for the appliances. That means the muscles stay relaxed when the sleep appliance is used and often also help with TMD symptoms.  If you seek sleep apnea treatment, here are some reasons to choose a sleep dentist.

Learn about CPAP Alternatives

group of senior men smiling and laughing

For most sleep medicine physicians, one sleep apnea treatment is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). They may also recommend lifestyle changes that can help make CPAP be more effective. Most common one is to “ exercise and lose weight”, even though it is not so easy to do for many reasons including the fact that untreated OSA can lead to weight gain. Also if you are suffering from sleep apnea, fatigue is very common. It is hard to get motivated to do exercise when you have no energy left.  If you ask about alternatives to CPAP, they might tell you about sleep apnea surgery, which they will probably recommend against. One surgery is to reduce the length of the throat tissue – UPPP – Uvulo Palato PharyngoPlasty.  It does not have a great effectiveness record and can have side effects including food coming out the nose in some cases.  Another surgery is Inspire – an implanted device like a pacemaker that senses the contraction of the diaphragm and stimulates the tongue.  It is not a simple surgery; but many who watch TV ads think that it is only a remote control device.  Most sleep doctors may not tell you about oral appliance therapy. If they mention it, they probably don’t know it can be as ‘effective’ as CPAP. You need to talk to a sleep dentist to learn about this treatment option and how it might help you. 

You May Want to Avoid CPAP

If you see a sleep medicine physician, they are almost 100% certain to prescribe CPAP for your sleep apnea. That is because of “efficacy”.  IF you wear CPAP correctly for the entire night, it will manage your sleep apnea. But most people don’t like strapping a mask on their face that will force air down their throat. It is not an attractive look either in which to go to bed.  They don’t want to be forced to try it before moving to an alternative. Some people also think CPAP is too aggressive a treatment for mild sleep apnea or snoring. They want something less disruptive to their sleep routine.

The good news is that many people don’t have to try CPAP. They can go straight to oral sleep appliance therapy if they talk to a sleep dentist. If you want to learn whether you’re a candidate for comfortable, convenient, and effective oral appliance therapy, talking to a sleep dentist is a smart move. 

You Suspect You Might Have TMJ

People with sleep apnea often have temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD). This is because the same anatomical structures that affect your breathing at night also affect the function of your jaw. Plus, your jaw may clench and grind as your body fights to keep your airway open at night. 

Since the two conditions are connected, it’s a good idea to work with someone who understands both conditions, such as a sleep dentist trained in neuromuscular dentistry like Dr. Prabu Raman. Otherwise, you risk developing or aggravating TMJ with your sleep apnea treatment. This can happen with CPAP as well as with oral appliance therapy. Sleep dentist Dr. Raman can help you find a sleep apnea treatment that won’t worsen your TMJ symptoms and may even help alleviate many TMJ symptoms.  It is like hitting two birds with one stone!

What if You Can’t Adapt to CPAP?

Since it’s the most ‘recommended’ sleep apnea treatment, many people try CPAP. They go through the process of trying on different masks. They might use other accessories like humidifiers and heaters to make the air more comfortable for their throat. If you’re one of these people, you might still find that you can’t adapt to CPAP. CPAP compliance is generally defined as using a CPAP machine at least four hours a night during at least five nights in a week. Even then, the odds are not great: about half of people prescribed CPAP don’t use it as recommended long-term. If someone takes off a mask in later hours of night after wearing it for 4 hours, it would still be considered “compliant”. But the most important time to wear the CPAP is early morning when the most severe apnea occurs.  This is also the reason that most heart attacks occur early in the morning.  In contrast, the compliance with oral sleep appliances is much higher.  In fact, those that wear oral appliances wear them for the entire night!

If you can’t adapt to CPAP, you have only two options: you can suffer the dangers of untreated sleep apnea or find a CPAP alternative, such as oral sleep appliance therapy. Given how deadly sleep apnea can be, we strongly recommend not leaving it untreated.

You Want a Travel-Friendly Second Treatment

Even if you adapt well to CPAP at home, you might prefer to avoid traveling with it. 

To travel with CPAP, pack all your gear and find a place to set it up in a hotel room or guest bedroom. You might have difficulty finding a convenient outlet to plug it in. Or perhaps there’s not enough room on the bedside table for your machine. Business travelers might find that it’s cumbersome for their frequent trips. A CPAP machine requires a separate bag that can cause complications at security or when boarding the plane.  

CPAP can also be difficult if you love to head up to Smithville or down to Lake Jacomo for extended camping and fishing trips. Battery-operated CPAP machines could be better. If you’re in an RV, you might have the power, but finding room for your CPAP can be challenging.

In these situations, it can be great to have a sleep apnea treatment that doesn’t require outlets, batteries, or bedside tables–one that fits in your pocket. That’s oral appliance therapy. It requires no power and no equipment. It will fit in your pocket and is easy to get through security. You never have to worry if space will be in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you. 

A sleep dentist can help you get an oral sleep appliance that will help you treat sleep apnea no matter where you travel. 

Talk to a Dentist about Your Sleep Apnea Today

There are many good reasons to talk to a dentist about sleep apnea treatment. If you are looking for sleep apnea treatment in Kansas City area, please call (816) 436-4422 or use our online form to request an appointment at the Raman Center for TMJ & Sleep today.