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Frequently Asked Questions: Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea 

How does an oral appliance for sleep apnea work?

Oral appliances are worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the tongue from collapsing

Why should I consider an oral appliance therapy over CPAP?

The gold standard for treating sleep apnea is the CPAP.  However, approximately 50% of patients do not follow through with this treatment because of the inconvenience and discomfort of wearing one.  As an effective alternative, many doctors are now prescribing oral appliance therapy to manage obstructive sleep apnea.  And to increase treatment compliance, some are even combining the oral appliance with CPAP.

What are the practice parameter guidelines for oral appliance therapy?

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, oral appliance therapy are for patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, and for those who prefer them over CPAP therapy.

What are the risks of oral appliance?

  • May cause pain in the jaw, teeth, or joint (TMJ)
  • May change bite
  • Excessive drooling
  • May cause mouth dryness
  • May require periodic adjustments

What are the benefits of oral appliance?

  • May reduce or eliminate daytime fatigue, 
  • May improve mood and ability to concentrate
  • May reduce or eliminate snoring
  • More discrete to use
  • No noise to bother your family or roommates
  • Portable and easy to use and clean
  • More flexibility with sleep positions
  • Covered by many medical insurance plans

Will insurance cover oral appliance therapy?

Since oral appliance therapy is considered a medical treatment, it will only be covered by medical insurance.  Most major medical insurers completely or partially cover oral appliance therapy.  Ultimately, it is the patient’s responsibility to pay for the treatment.  We offer complimentary in-house medical billing for our patients to help them gain the most from their medical benefits.  We can help verify the benefits of your insurance plan before you commit to treatment.

Are all dentists trained in sleep medicine to provide oral appliance therapy?

No, dental sleep medicine requires special training.  According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, oral appliances should be fitted by qualified dentists who are trained and experienced in the overall care of oral health, TMJ, dental occlusion, and associated oral structures.  While many dentists are trained in these areas, not all of them have trained in dental sleep medicine.

I’m told I snore loudly.  Does that mean I have sleep apnea?

In order to determine whether or not you have sleep apnea, you will need a sleep study performed.  Sleep tests may be administered in a sleep center or with a home sleep kit.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.