Oral Sleep Apnea Appliance FAQ
What are the advantages of using an oral appliance?
Oral appliances offer relief from the effects of sleep apnea while avoiding the more expensive and invasive option of surgery. Some patients find that the right oral appliance works as the perfect solution for nighttime peace and freedom from interrupted sleep. Oral appliances may target snoring or interrupted breathing, or both. With the right appliance, patients can improve the quality and duration of sleep, reduce daytime sleepiness, improve airflow, reduce the volume or frequency of snoring, and reduce or eliminate apneic events (paused breathing). Oral appliances are also more portable, smaller, and easier to use than the CPAP option.
Will wearing an oral appliance put stress on my jaw joint?
Much research and testing has been performed to study the effects of oral appliances. Most oral appliances are FDA-approved for health and safety and do not pose any dangers under normal usage. A small number of patients may experience some jaw or tooth stress, at which point readjustments usually prove to be successful. Research has shown changes in tooth and jaw position over time, but these problems are usually minor and well tolerated by patients. Few patients would give up their appliances because of these problems.
Are oral appliances awkward or difficult to wear?
Your oral appliance will be custom fit for maximum comfort and ease. There will be a short period of adjustment during which your mouth will adapt to the sensation of the oral appliance. If, for some reason, the appliance is noticeably uncomfortable, we will readjust the appliance to your liking.
What are the side effects of wearing an oral appliance?
Side effects are genuinely mild and generally take only a short time to adapt to. Depending on the oral appliance you choose, side effects can include mouth dryness, excessive salivation, tooth or jaw joint soreness, nausea, tooth damage, repositioning of the jaw or teeth, and others. Talk to our doctors about any side effects that are obtrusive. Many of these problems are self-limiting and go away in a short time for most patients. Bite changes may occur with time and often patients are unaware of these changes or find them favorable. If patients are aware of bite changes they should immediately contact us for advice on limiting or reversing changes.
Do oral appliances work?
Yes! Several current studies have shown oral appliances to be highly effective in treating the symptoms of sleep apnea, especially snoring and interrupted breathing. Patients must be consistent with usage and must follow our instructions.
Is sleep apnea treatment with oral appliances expensive?
We aim to make all treatment options affordable, so our patients can choose the optimum treatment for their needs, with little worry about cost. Oral appliance therapy costs are similar to that of other apnea treatments, and many insurance plans may cover a portion of the fees. Talk to a financial coordinator today for information on costs, payment, and insurance coverage. To learn more about our affordable payment plans, email our office today. The cost of treatment is much less than the costs of delayed treatment.
Will an oral appliance help me finally get enough sleep?
Most sleep apnea patients respond very well to appliance therapy, although it may be necessary to try out a few different types before finding the appliance that works best for you. Your oral appliance will be custom-fitted to target your unique combination of sleep apnea symptoms so you can get a good night's rest. It will not take the place of healthy sleep habits and sufficient time set aside for sleep.
Which oral appliance should I use?
There are so many different types of appliances to accommodate the varying characteristics of sleep apnea patients, such as jaw size and shape, type and severity of apnea, and tolerance levels. Each appliance has a unique method of function and will have different effects on different patients. The position of the jaw is actually the most important factor not how that position is held. After a thorough exam and sleep evaluation, we will recommend the appliance that should give you optimum results. Keep in mind that the appliance you choose will be custom-fitted and tailored to your mouth's anatomy. Our patients usually start with a TAP appliance to enable titration at the sleep lab. The ideal position to correct apnea and snoring is most easily found with the TAP appliance. The position of the jaw is the most important factor in treatment and can only be confirmed with diagnostic polysomnography (sleep test).
Once that position is found, the majority of patients are happy with their initial appliance. Any other appliances can be constructed to the same position for maximum patient comfort.
How long will my oral appliance last?
Depending on which appliance you choose, they can last years. Most appliances are generally constructed to withstand normal wear and tear well, we can repair or reinforce your appliance periodically to increase its functionality. Tooth grinding and other excess wear and tear may shorten the lifespan of your appliance.
How do I tell if my oral appliance is doing its job?
You should feel noticeably more rested than before you started wearing the appliance. You should notice that you are sleeping through the night without any sudden awakenings, and your partner may notice that you've stopped snoring. The most definitive way to tell that an oral appliance is working is by undergoing a follow-up sleep study at the sleep lab.
What ongoing care and maintenance do I need to perform on my appliance?
You will need to clean your appliance each morning by brushing it with a toothbrush and special cleaning agent. Examine the hardware of your appliance often to make sure nothing is out of place. You may be asked to come in to see our doctors for periodic adjustments and maintenance. Excellent oral care (brushing and flossing) is important while using oral appliances.
Contact us today for more information on sleep apnea treatment including sleep apnea devices and appliances and how you can seek relief from snoring and other sleeping disorders. Call or email our office today for your sleep apnea consultation.