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Experts On Sleep Apnea Say Special Mouthguards Can Replace CPAP Machines

BOSTON (CBS) -- 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, and most are prescribed CPAP machines to use at night. But experts say some people may be able to ditch the machines and use a special mouthguard instead.

This would be welcome news to many.

When someone has obstructive sleep apnea, their upper airway can become blocked, causing shallow breathing or brief periods of no breathing. CPAP machines involve a mask worn on the face that forces air into your mouth or nose to keep your upper airway open. But the machines can be cumbersome and somewhat annoying.

Now experts say that oral devices, similar to mouthguards, which have been around for quite some time, can work as well as CPAP machines for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. These appliances bring the lower jaw forward and keep the tongue from blocking the throat and need to be custom-made, usually with the help of a dentist.

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