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Truckers Hit by CPAP Recall and Shortage Turn to Oral Appliances

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There’s been a wave of interest in oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea after the big recall of CPAP machines last summer.  One group particularly interested in appliances are long-distance truckers. 

Truckers with moderate to severe OSA are required to comply with their treatment plan to drive. If they are not meeting thresholds for compliance, they’re not allowed to work until they can prove that they are treating their OSA.  This caused a big problem this summer.

According to Overdrive, a trucking industry trade journal, many drivers found themselves unable to work after the Philips CPAP recall.  They had to return their existing CPAP machines, but the global chip shortage, supply chain issues, and the use of CPAPs for worldwide COVID interventions have resulted in a severe shortage of the devices.  Many truckers with moderate to severe apnea have been left without any treatment at all for their disorder.  In a time when our country is suffering from a supply chain crisis that comes, in part, from a lack of transport availability, this is a problem with huge repercussions throughout the economy.

Regulatory bodies are debating letting the drivers use oral appliances for moderate OSA permanently, and for severe OSA until CPAPs become available again.  One issue is that truckers don’t want to spend big money on an appliance they may only be able to use for a few months.

On the other hand, appliance therapy offers some benefits that CPAP machines do not.

Appliances are:

  • Comfortable
  • Usable in all sleeping positions
  • Portable
  • Usable when there’s no plug available
  • Easy to clean, even on the road
  • Easier to comply with than PAP treatment for many patients

Perhaps it’s time for oversight bodies to reconsider appliances as an acceptable long-term treatment for truck drivers.

Has the CPAP recall and shortage led to more of your patients asking about oral appliances? Does your community currently lack a sleep dentistry practice?  Dr. Dassani’s courses can help you get a sleep program up and running so that you can meet this urgent need.