Life With An

Oral Appliance

Snoring Isn’t Sexy™ dentists continually hear how life with an oral appliance for obstructive sleep apnea has helped their patient’s lives and relationships.

What to Expect With an Oral Appliance

When the snoring, tiredness or other sleep apnea related symptoms have been resolved an in-home or laboratory sleep study will be recommended to clarify effectiveness of your oral appliance in achieving optimal oxygen levels. You will be referred back to your physician for final evaluation and evaluation for any additional sleep study.

Monitoring Progress of Your Oral Appliance Therapy

Like CPAP, oral appliance therapy for snoring and sleep apnea is not a cure. The dental device must be worn every night for it to be effective. Your progress with the oral appliance should be monitored over time to ensure that the appliance continues to do its job in providing relief of snoring and sleep apnea and to ensure that you remain symptom free.

The dental team will carefully follow and guide your progress throughout your treatment. You will be seen in the office several times to ensure acceptance, comfort and effectiveness of the therapy. Instructions will be given on proper adjustment of the appliance and any areas of discomfort will be addressed. The objective will be to resolve the snoring and daytime tiredness through gently and gradually repositioning the lower jaw. Your personal feedback and simple in-home dental sleep studies may be utilized to provide guidance.

Once effectiveness of therapy has been confirmed with a sleep study, you will be reevaluated on a six month or one year visit depending on your individual case. This is important to ensure adequate treatment, to monitor for side effects, and to maintain the warranty on your appliance.

Tips on Caring for Your Oral Appliance

It’s important that you follow manufacturer’s instructions for your appliance.  For general oral appliance care we have provided these tips, courtesy of Snoring Isn’t Sexy™. Oral appliances are easy to care for but they do have to be cleaned regularly.  Each morning, simply brush it with a toothbrush.  Denture or orthodontic appliance cleaner may be used for many of the appliances, but be sure to check with your Snoring Isn’t Sexy™ ™ dentist. Rinse it well and allow it to sit in its case all day with the top open.  

Dogs love to chew on oral appliances and think it’s a new chew toy. Be sure it is up, out of the way, where no curious dogs can chew on it!  Also avoid extremes of temperature, especially heat, since the appliance may distort. Do not leave the appliance in direct sunlight.  Two times each week, the appliance should be soaked for 15 minutes in an ultrasonic cleaning container designed for orthodontic appliances, using the cleanser tablets. This will disinfect and keep the appliance looking its best. Examine your appliance frequently and call the office if you observe any broken areas.

Jaw Exercises

Often, patients find that they are unable to close their teeth completely in the morning immediately after removing the appliance. This is normal and is due to a temporary jaw joint change. This will generally resolve within 10 or 20 minutes on its own as the joint drifts back into its normal position.

After 20 minutes, jaw exercises are helpful to re-establish joint position and good tooth contact. This can be accomplished by clenching the teeth together and holding for several seconds and then releasing and then repeating the clench/release for a minute or so. Or, you may clench/release on the soft plastic exercise tabs that were provided to you.

Another method is to chew gum while taking a hot shower. Chew and shower for about 10 minutes or until teeth close properly and comfortably.

Side Effects from Oral Appliance Therapy

Most of the side effects encountered during appliance use are minor and temporary. They may include tenderness to teeth, muscles and joint. Dry mouth and increased salivation may also noticed in some cases. In addition, teeth will not meet properly for 10 to 20 minutes after first removing the appliance after a nights use. The office will work with you to manage these occurrences and minimize any problems.

It should be noted that in some patients, a permanent bite change will occur over the years due to a small, permanent change in jaw joint position and/or minor tooth movements due to the pressures placed by the appliance each night.

It is critically important to keep up with prescribed evaluation visits, allowing your dentist to monitor any possible changes in your bite. They are most easily managed if discovered in the early stages.

Your dental office can provide you with the support you need to get the most out of your sleep apnea treatment.


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