Oral Appliances – FAQs

Snoring and Sleep ApneaWe understand that using oral appliances to correct snoring or sleep apnea may be a new idea to many people. You may worry about how it will work, how it will affect your face or mouth, or whether it will be uncomfortable or not. We've put together some of the most common questions about oral appliances along with brief answers to ease your mind.

What Are The Benefits Of Oral Appliances?

Using oral appliances is an excellent way to treat obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. It is less expensive and less invasive than having corrective surgery. Oral appliances are also more comfortable and easier to use than a CPAP machine. The design of your appliance can help prevent sleep apnea, snoring, or both conditions, resulting in less waking during the night and more restful, restorative sleep.

Are Oral Appliances Effective?

There have been numerous studies that show oral appliances are extremely effective for treating sleep apnea and snoring. They can reduce or eliminate interrupted breathing, giving you a more restful night's sleep and improving your overall health. Of course, oral appliances are most effective when used consistently according to your dentist's instructions. They won't help you sitting on your bedside table!

Are There Any Side Effects?

Some people may experience some mild discomfort when they begin using oral appliances, but this usually resolves itself within a few weeks. There are various potential side effects possible, such as dry mouth, joint tenderness, excess salivation, or mild toothache, but these aren't usually a problem and resolve themselves quickly. If you continue to have side effects after an adjustment period, talk to your dentist about an adjustment to the appliance.

Are Oral Appliances Uncomfortable?

Because it is custom designed to fit your mouth perfectly, an oral appliance is usually easy to wear. You may go through a brief period where your mouth will need to get used to the feeling of the appliance, but this usually only takes a few nights. If you continue to have problems, your dentist can adjust the fit.

Do oral appliances cause any damage to the teeth or jaw?

Oral appliances have been carefully tested and are FDA approved. If used properly, they do not cause any health problems. Rarely, there may be mild stress to the teeth or jaw, but minor readjustments can quickly alleviate the problem. There may be a mild shift in jaw position or tooth alignment for a minority of patients, but this doesn't usually cause health or appearance problems.

Are Oral Appliances Expensive?

The cost of treating sleep apnea with an oral appliance is significantly less than the cost of using a CPAP machine. Your dentist will work with you to develop a payment plan or financing to cover the cost of your appliance so that it works for your family's budget. Some insurance plans cover all or part of the cost of oral appliances used to treat sleep apnea.

Will I Be Able To Sleep With An Oral Appliance In Place?

Yes! And in many cases, your partner will sleep better as well because you aren't snoring like a buzz-saw! It may take you a few nights to adjust to the appliance, but you will soon find that without the constant interruptions of your sleep when you stop breathing, you will sleep more soundly and wake up more refreshed. Keep in mind that you do need to keep to a schedule that allows for at least eight hours of sleep each night in order to stay healthy.

How Often Do I Need To Get A New Appliance?

Most oral appliances last for years because they are designed to hold up under normal nightly use. Your dentist can reinforce the appliance periodically and can repair many types of damage. If you grind your teeth at night, you may have to replace your appliance more frequently.

How Do I Know My Oral Appliance Is Working?

The most obvious sign will be how you feel when you're awake. If you are less tired, feel better, and can perform tasks more easily during the day, it's a good sign you're sleeping through the night without sleep apnea interrupting your rest. You can also ask your partner, who can no doubt tell you if you've stopped snoring. Your doctor may also schedule a new sleep test to determine how much REM sleep you are getting while wearing the appliance.

How Do I Care For My Appliance?

Oral appliances are very easy to care for. Simply brush it each morning with a toothbrush and either toothpaste or the cleaner your dentist has recommended. Check it periodically to make sure there are no loose parts or damages. Be sure to brush and floss daily when using any oral appliance.

How Will My Dentist Choose An Oral Appliance For Me?

A sleep study is the first step toward picking oral appliances. After the results of a sleep study are evaluated, your dentist will examine the size and shape of your jaw, the size and placement of your teeth, and the alignment of your jaw. He will also take into account the severity of your sleep apnea in order to determine which of the various oral appliances available is right for you.

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