CPAP Masks/Machines - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Devices (CPAP)

What is a CPAP Machine?

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a medical apparatus that is primarily used for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea. It comprises a box-like unit attached via tube to a mask that the patient wears on their mouth and nose. Sleep apnoea patients use the device at night to counter the effects of their breathing problems.

It is also used on hospital patients as an interim device when they are transitioning from breathing tubes or intubation to normal breathing. It is prescribed as part of first line treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea.

CPAP machines

How does CPAP work?

The muscles that help to keep our throats open become more relaxed when we sleep. In this relaxed state, the tissues and muscles in the upper airway may collapse resulting in a partially blocked air passage. This causes pauses in breathing known as “apnoeas”. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea refers to the sleep breathing disorder brought about by the complete or partial blockage of the airways. Common OSA symptoms include loud and persistent snoring as well as repeated choking and gasping during sleep.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) uses air pressure to open the throat muscles so that the air passage remains open and allows the patient to breathe normally while asleep. The amount of air pressure required for each patient may be determined by an overnight sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram (PSG). Usually carried out by a sleep physician or technologist, the PSG is a pain-free procedure used to monitor brain wave activity, breathing and snoring patterns – via sensors placed on the chest, head and legs.

The PSG scores will be interpreted and diagnosed by a qualified sleep physician to assess the kind of sleep disorder you may have. If CPAP is determined as a treatment option for you, they would recommend the appropriate air pressure levels based on the sleep study results.

Is CPAP right for me?

The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is usually the first choice prescribed by sleep physicians for sufferers of obstructive sleep apnoea.

By keeping your airway open while you sleep, it can correct your snoring and improve your quality of sleep – not to mention giving the people in your household more peaceful nights. It also helps to relieve your sleep apnoea symptoms – that often stem from sleep deprivation – including daytime sleepiness, loss of concentration, morning headaches and memory loss. CPAP also lowers the long-term risks associated with OSA such as heart failure, diabetes, stroke and even death. People who use CPAP report many positive results – even after the first day of using it. While they claim to feel more alert and less tired during the day, their bed partners also report fewer complaints about snoring and sleep disruption.

Sleep disorders

Unfortunately, many patients have trouble complying with the directives. It is estimated that only 23% - 45% of patients have success with the CPAP method. CPAP involves a long-term treatment mainly because it only creates a temporary solution. Despite being the most common treatment option, it also happens to be the least tolerated. Part of the reason is because sleeping with a breathing mask on does not feel natural. While it should ideally be worn all night, many CPAP users wear it for 4 hours or less per night.

In other words, CPAP is highly successful when used properly and offers many benefits. However, the success or failure of CPAP treatment usually depends on whether you can comply with the treatment protocols and stick to them.

CPAP masks are a permanent solution for mild to severe obstructive sleep apnoea. While your health professional is best placed to recommend if CPAP is right for you, it is worth considering based on your desired lifestyle. Unlike dental appliances, CPAP masks are not portable (though separate travel varieties are available) and can be restricting when trying to sleep. If you have a partner, it is important to discuss with them their thoughts around the CPAP machine as the device may have an impact on their ability to sleep also.

Different types of sleep apnoea CPAP masks

There is no right or wrong way to choose a CPAP mask. In fact, a patient can try different types of masks until they find the one that works best for them. Here is a brief introduction to the various models you can select from:

Nasal Pillows

Nasal pillow masks supply air through nasal pillows that are placed just below the patient's nose. They feature side straps that help to keep the mask in position during sleep.

Since they do not cover as much of the face, they are ideal for claustrophobics. They are also recommended for people who wear glasses as they do not get in the way of glasses and allows for a full field of vision. However, they are not ideal for those who are prone to allergies or colds.

Some models come with ball-cap-style straps with an adjustable front mount, supplying air pressure either through cushions or nasal pillows.

Average cost of Nasal Pillows: $150 - $300

Nasal Masks

Nasal masks supplies air through the nose directly from the mask. The perimeter of the mask contains foam cushions designed to provide a comfortable seal for the mask, which is held in place by side straps.

It’s ideal for patients that require higher air pressure and the delivered pressure is not as direct. The way the foam piece and straps are configured allow the headgear to flex, which makes nasal masks suitable for restless sleepers who move around a lot during sleep. Nasal masks are not recommended for mouth breathers unless they come with chin-straps that keep the jaw closed.

Average cost of Nasal Masks: $150 - $300

Full Face Masks

Unlike what the name suggests, full face masks only cover the nose and mouth. The mask is positioned using straps that go around the head.

They are ideal for patients who are prone to breathe through their mouths as they sleep. Works well for those who sleep on their backs as they provide an optimal air seal in that sleeping position. However, due to larger area surface, there is a higher possibility of air leakage, especially near the top of the mask.

Average cost of Full Face Masks: $150 - $300

Paediatric CPAP Masks

Paediatric masks essentially provide the same CPAP therapy in a smaller size. Available in nasal and full face styles, these masks are held in place with a paediatric headgear – which may either come as a package or optional item.

Difference between Paediatric mask and adult mask

Children have smaller faces and less facial definition, hence the need for paediatric masks that are made just for them. Like adult masks, they should also provide a comfortable fit and complete seal without causing any form of irritation or soreness.

To ensure optimum comfort and effectiveness, you would need to replace the mask cushion every three months or when it doesn’t provide a complete seal. The entire CPAP mask should be replaced every 6 months.

The first line of treatment for children Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) is adenotonsillectomy, hence CPAP is not as frequently prescribed for children. A child wearing the CPAP mask for the first time may find it frightening, which may negatively influence future CPAP adherence. It is preferred for children with OSAS to undergo a behavioural program with desensitization prior to CPAP.

Average cost of Paediatric CPAP masks: $100 - $200

Things to consider before buying a CPAP machine

Mask selection: Although the most important criterion is how well it fits – at least from a therapeutic standpoint – comfort, quality and price are important factors too. One thing that many people tend to neglect is availability of spare parts, which boils down to choosing the right supplier and product. Refer to above for “different types of CPAP masks”.

Noise: Some machines can be rather loud, which is a common complaint of both the OSA sufferer and the bed partner. One way around this is to ask for a trial unit to see if you can get used to the noise level.

Humidifier: Helps to moisten the air coming through the hose. This feature can improve compliance for some patients, especially those with dry mouth problems.

Portability: The lighter and less bulky the unit, the easier to travel with.

Ramp: Helps the patient ease into the prescribed airflow by reducing the initial feeling of the air pressure. With this feature, the air pressure can be set to increase gradually until it finally reaches the prescribed pressure.

Exhalation pressure relief: An alternative to standard CPAP therapy that offers a more natural breathing experience. It does this by detecting the beginning of exhalation and reducing treatment pressure by lowering motor speed.

Heated tubing: Controls the air temperature as it passes through the tube, adjusting it to ambient temperature to maintain a comfortable humidity level.

Mask on/off alert: Some people unconsciously rip off their masks while sleeping. The mask alert emits an alarm to force you to put the mask back on.

Leak Compensation: Automatically detects and compensates for any unintentional leaks to maintain the correct pressure.

Data recording: Records breathing activity and usage parameters such as hours used, sinus rhythm and hypopneas.

Common CPAP problems    

sleep apnea machines, CPAP masks

The success rate and effectiveness of the CPAP sleep aid device is very high, provided that you have no issues complying with the therapy. Unfortunately, CPAP compliance rates are rather low as not everyone can tolerate wearing a breathing mask or the constant blowing of pressurised air through one’s nostrils and throat throughout the night. Other complaints include skin/eye irritation, nasal congestion, dry/sore throat and noise created by the CPAP machine.

The classes of patients that may find CPAP more difficult to cope with are those who:

  • Are prone to breathe through their mouths
  • Sleep on their stomachs
  • Have allergies

The following are common CPAP compliance issues that OSA patients have:

  • Not used to wearing a mask to sleep
  • Difficulty breathing though forced air
  • Leaky mask
  • Skin irritation or pressure sores caused by mask
  • Dry and stuffy noise
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Noise emitted by the unit

The good news is, patients who have CPAP compliance issues frequently benefit from oral appliance therapy.

A Sound Sleeper Dentist is able to help with your sleeping disorder and provide a solution for your sleep apnoea condition. Click here to locate a Sound Sleeper dentist near you today.

Are you tired of CPAP?

Do you currently use a CPAP machine and find it difficult to cope with? If so, you are not alone!

Although CPAP is considered the most commonly prescribed treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea, patient acceptance – along with partner acceptance – is often low. Similarly, the lack of tolerance and adherence levels often reduces the overall effectiveness.

Thankfully, studies show that Oral Appliance Therapy is emerging as a comparatively effective alternative treatment. This dentist-administered therapy commonly involves the application of Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD), also known as Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS). Comparative trials have shown CPAP and these oral devices to produce equivalent health outcomes. This is even true for severe cases of OSA treatment, where the success of oral appliances is linked to its favourable compliance rates.

If you currently use a CPAP machine but would like to discuss your MAD/MAS options, you may click here to locate a Sound Sleeper dentist near you today.

CPAP Alternatives

Apart from Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy, other treatment options for the Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) are as follows:

Medication

Doctors generally do not recommend medicines to treat OSA. Still, many medications have been used for specific cases with varying results, including nasal steroid sprays and topical nasal decongestants.

Surgery

Typically recommended for patients who have difficulty complying with conventional therapy. The types of surgery include: Somnoplasty, mandibular/maxillary advancement surgery, nasal surgery and upper airway stimulator.

Lifestyle changes

Since sleep apnoea is often associated with patients who are overweight or obese, sleep physicians often recommend weight loss programs as a way to reduce the breathing disorder. Other lifestyle changes include:

Changing of sleep position: Sleeping on one’s side can prevent the tongue from falling back to the base of the throat and blocking the airway.

Limiting the intake of tobacco, alcohol and sleeping pills: Curbing habits that increase OSA risks is a natural method of treating the problem.

Getting more rest: Recommended for those with mild snoring problems that may arise due to insufficient rest or fatigue.

Dental appliances

Worn on the teeth during sleep, the Mandibular Advancement Splint/ Device (MAS/ MAD) prevents the soft tissue from collapsing into the airway and disrupting normal breathing patterns. It is considered a viable alternative for those who have difficulties coping with CPAP therapy. The oral appliance solution is typically recommended for treating mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea.

Some of the MAD/MAS benefits include:

  • Safe and effective method for eliminating obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring
  • Can be customised to fit snugly on your teeth
  • Can be easily adjusted so that you won’t have to replace the device as often
  • The results are not permanent so you can change your mind anytime and revert to a previous state
  • Small and unobtrusive device that allows you talk and drink discreetly while undergoing treatment
  • Competitively priced as compared to other conservative therapies
  • Painless and less expensive alternative to surgical treatment

If you currently use a CPAP machine and would like to discuss your MAD/MAS options, you may click here to locate a Sound Sleeper dentist near you today.

CPAP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How long do I need to use a CPAP mask?

It is necessary to use a CPAP machine every time you sleep and for the full duration of sleep. Unfortunately there is currently no ‘cure’ for obstructive sleep apnoea. Those who use a CPAP machine may see immediate results the day after with their daytime sleepiness levels. However, ceasing use of the machine will mean that apnoea episodes will continue to occur again and you will begin to suffer from symptoms you previously had before using it.

Are CPAP machines comfortable?

Advances in manufacturing and design of CPAP machines have come a long way since their inception.

Considered noisy and bulky, many modern machines are much quieter, usually emitting a slight buzz. It may be necessary to wear earplugs during sleep with some machines if the noise becomes bothersome.

CPAP masks are designed to be as comfortable as possible, often with a soft touch plastic where it meets the skin. If you have a particular sleeping position, you may need to restrict yourself to sleeping in a way where the mask does not get in your way or is knocked off during sleep

Costs of treatment/ Private Insurance

Partial rebates may be claimable depending on the terms of benefits and coverage with your private health insurance provider. Arrange your consultation with one of our Sound Sleeper dentists to find out how much the oral appliance therapy will cost you.

Consult with a Sound Sleeper Dentist

If you have been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and would like to consult a qualified dental practitioner on how oral appliance therapy may help with your sleep disorder, why not visit a Sound Sleeper dentist?

At Sound Sleeper, we provide the highly effective SomnoDent range of products that are made from high quality acrylic materials. These clinically tested dental devices have an impressive track record of improving the sleep quality for the majority (91%) of OSA patients. They are comfortable and discreet to wear, allowing you to talk and open/close your mouth.

Not only do we use high quality materials and employ clinically tested methods, all our dentists are accredited providers with the skills and experience to administer the various dental options in sleep apnoea treatment.

Do not let Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) rob you of the adequate rest you need!

At Sound Sleeper, we can help with your sleeping disorder and provide a dental solution to your problems. Click here to locate a Sound Sleeper dentist near you today.

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