There are many sleep apnea devices that are used for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. These sleep apnea devices utilize different technologies in order to solve the problem of airway closure during sleep. Each sleep apnea device approaches airway closure from a different angle. Therapy for sleep apnea is a very personal decision that should be made with the assistance of a physician or professional sleep clinician. In this section, we will discuss some of the sleep apnea devices that are available, or will soon be available, on the market.
In general, the sleep apnea devices that available for the treatment of sleep apnea work by keeping upper airway open – and preventing it from closing during sleep.
Some sleep apnea devices use anatomic positioning. Others use air pressure. Newer technologies are utilizing electrical impulses.
Sleep Apnea Oral Appliances
These are dental devices which look very much like mouth guards. They are worn at night. They open the mouth by bringing the mandible forward. They are also called mandibular advancing devices (MAD) and mandibular repositioning devices (MRD), as they reposition the mandible forward relative to the maxilla (the upper jaw). There are several Sleep Apnea Oral Appliances that are FDA approved. Some are made of soft nylon plastic, others are made from a resin-like material. A few use computer aided design (CAD) and 3D imaging to fit the device to the mouth and teeth. They essentially work as an airway splint.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure has been around for a few decades. It is one of the most popular therapies available for sleep apnea. It works by delivering room air through a mask in the nose and/or mouth to keep the airway open – like an ‘air splint’. It is considered very safe with few side effects. However, many experience challenges getting accommodated to the treatment. There are several technical advances that are added to standard CPAP. Many of these technologies are aimed at increasing comfort. There are 100’s of CPAP masks and CPAPs and CPAP supplies that are on the market.
Alternative Sleep Apnea Treatment Devices
While the following options are novel and exciting approaches to the treatment of OSA, they are relatively new. There is less research and data looking at these sleep apnea devices.
Inspire – Inspire Medical device uses an electrical impulse to stimulate the muscles around the airway. During sleep, in patients that have sleep apnea, these muscles collapse, closing the airway. This device which resembles a pacemaker, is surgically implanted to keep the airway open during sleep.
Body Positioning Devices – are devices that encourage the individual with sleep apnea to avoid the supine position. For patients with mild sleep apnea, this may be beneficial. Originally, some inserted a tennis ball into the back of a shirt, which would cause the patient to shift to a side position.
Negative intra-oral pressure devices – new devices are being studied which apply negative airway pressure on parts of the soft palate – at the roof of the mouth. This reportedly prevents the soft tissues of the airway from collapsing.
Tongue Retaining Devices (TRD)– A plastic mouthpiece that sucks the tongue into a forward position. This makes more room in the back of the throat allowing for a larger posterior airway area.
Summary: Sleep apnea devices descriptions – reviews of treatments and therapy for sleep apnea.