Oral Appliance Therapy Expectations
Treating snoring and sleep apnea requires a team approach. Dentists cannot, by the limits of licensure, make a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. For that you need to visit a physician. The first step in being treated for snoring or obstructive sleep apnea is to obtain an evaluation by a sleep physician who will provide a formal diagnosis usually based on a medical sleep study. This study can be done at home, in a hospital or private office sleep center.
In consultation with your sleep physician, we will determine whether you are a good candidate for oral appliance therapy and which appliance will be most effective.
The first dental appointment will involve a discussion of the problem, the advantages and limitations of oral appliance therapy in your case, the extent to which insurance will cover the procedures. We will also complete a brief oral examination to determine if your teeth, gums and bone are healthy enough to support an oral appliance. Side effects and contraindications will be fully disclosed and discussed.
If you choose to proceed with the therapy, a simple in-home baseline sleep study may be done initially. This will be compared to a second study done once the appliance is thought to be effective. Impressions will be taken for the appliance.
After the selected appliance is fabricated, you will return for a custom-fitting and instructions on use and care of the oral appliance. After that you will return for approximately two more times for follow-up visits to monitor the effect of the appliance and to make any necessary adjustments. The effectiveness will judged by resolution of your subjective symptoms (snoring and daytime sleepiness) and a second simple in-home dental sleep study.
When the snoring and tiredness have been resolved and the second in-home dental sleep study shows good improvement, you will be referred back to your sleep physician for final evaluation. Most often it will involve another medical sleep study.
Ultimately, our office will follow your progress on a twice per year basis to ensure adequate treatment and to monitor any possible side effects.