Oral Appliances, Effective CPAP Alternatives for Sleep Apnea
In this segment, we will take a deep dive into oral appliances, effective CPAP alternatives for sleep apnea (OSA), and snoring. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can improve your sleep, restore your alertness, and revitalize your health. Get started with life-changing treatment using this guide.
What is an Oral Appliance?
Patients wear their oral appliances at night. These oral appliances fit like an orthodontic retainer. They hold the lower jaw comfortably in the forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. This study shows 81% of patients prefer oral appliance therapy to CPAP. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine both support OAT for treating OSA.
If you and your doctor decide oral appliance therapy is the best treatment option, your doctor will write a prescription for you to receive a custom-made oral appliance. You will also receive a referral to a qualified dentist who can provide oral appliance therapy. More than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance. Your dentist will recommend the oral appliance that is best for you. One of the first questions our patients ask is about price and insurance coverage. We are happy to report, yes, Oral Appliance Therapy is covered under your medical insurance. Check out one of our earlier blog posts for more information.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment that fits easily into your lifestyle. Patients like oral appliance therapy because it is:
- Easy to wear
- Convenient for travel
- Easy to care for
Finding a “Qualified” Dentist
Starting oral appliance therapy is easy. If your sleep doctor has not provided you with the information to find an American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine “Qualified” Dentist, you can search their database or run a quick Google search to find a provider in your area. It is always a good idea to call ahead and confirm the office takes your medical insurance. If the dental provider does not take medical insurance, do inquire about the entire cost for therapy. Despite a number of dentists able to provide this service, only a small portion have a medical insurance specialist. A medical insurance specialist can guide you through the entire insurance process, step-by-step. We strongly encourage you to work with a practice that takes medical insurance. This will help you avoid the headache of high cash fees and out-of-network costs.
Average Therapy Timeline
Getting started is easy! Typically, patients can expect to complete at least 2-3 appointments with their dental sleep medicine providers. An initial consultation can last 60-90 minutes. A dental sleep provider is genuinely concerned with your health and well-being. They often provide necessary time with their patients to ensure they carefully answer all questions. During this initial appointment, your provider will conduct a thorough evaluation of your teeth, gums, tongue, and airway. They will also assess the range of motion in your lower jaw. Some practices even take x-rays.
Good candidates then have an impression taken and their “case” sent to the lab. An impression is a fancy term for capturing an image or model of your dentition. At Ohio Sleep Treatment, we use a digital scanner to ensure the highest level of accuracy and patient satisfaction. Scans will be sent to a dental laboratory and the appliance is made. We work with a number of labs including but not limited to SomnoMed, Prosomnus, and Whole You. Your provider considers a number of variables when choosing the correct device for you. To learn more about our labs, check out the following blog posts with experts from SomnoMed and Prosomnus Sleep Technologies.
Appliance Delivery and Follow-Up
Once your oral appliance is ready, you will return to your dentist’s office for a fitting. If necessary, your dentist will adjust the appliance to maximize its comfort and effectiveness. You also will learn how to clean the oral appliance and maintain it. Caring for your appliance is critical to ensuring its longevity. At Ohio Sleep Treatment, we also fabricate a morning occlusal guide. Patients wear this device briefly each morning to help prevent any changes in bite associated with oral appliance therapy. Unfortunately, not all dental providers issue this resource to their patients. After this fitting, your sleep doctor may schedule you for a sleep study to verify treatment success. This test is typically scheduled 3-4 months after device delivery.
Follow-up visits with your dentist are necessary to ensure optimal fit of your oral appliance. Effective oral appliances are always custom-fit and adjusted over time to ensure maximum effectiveness. Your dentist will also schedule you for an annual assessment. These routine visits are an important part of your long-term treatment success.
Treatment with Oral Appliance Therapy
Treating snoring or obstructive sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy can make you feel like a new person. When you remain committed to your treatment and use it nightly, you will find that your symptoms and quality of life can improve dramatically. It is likely that you will sleep better, have more energy, and feel sharper throughout the day. You may find that your bed partner begins to sleep better, too! Oral appliances, effective CPAP alternatives for sleep apnea.
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