Appliance Therapy

Q: Are oral appliances effective in treating snoring and sleep apnea?

A: Oral appliances have been used to treat snoring and sleep apnea for over 30 years. Hundreds of research studies have shown that oral appliances can be effective in many cases. Choosing a well-educated, experienced dentist who utilizes quality oral appliances can maximize the effectiveness of your therapy. Oral appliances work best for mild and moderate sleep apnea cases but also work many times for severe sleep apnea.

Q: How do I know which oral appliance is best for me?

A: Presently, there are well over 100 different oral appliance designs available to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Rogers and the associate dentists at Pittsburgh Dental Sleep Medicine are well-versed in oral appliance design and have, over the years, become familiar with those appliances that work best for most people. The severity of your sleep apnea, the condition of your dentition and jaw joint among other factors will determine the appliance best for you.

Q: Will it be easy for me to get used to wearing an oral appliance during sleep? When can I expect to see results?

A: The vast majority of people accommodate quite well to the oral appliance within the first few days or a week. Some people actually see positive results (decreased snoring and more refreshing sleep) within the first week. Most other people will see results in the next few weeks as the appliance is adjusted to become more effective.

Q: Will oral appliance therapy move my teeth, change my bite or hurt my jaw joint?

A: 20 years of published research shows that while very minor tooth movement and bite changes can occur, they typically are not problematic over time. In rare instances, teeth can move and your bite may change significantly. Therefore, it is necessary to choose an experienced sleep-disorders dentist with the knowledge and experience to recognize and manage these side effects. The research has also shown that harm to the jaw joint typically does not occur. If jaw joint tenderness does occur, discontinuing use of the appliance in most cases will reverse the symptoms.

Q: Will my insurance cover the cost of oral appliance therapy?

A: Most insurance plans will cover the vast majority of the cost of oral appliance therapy if rendered by a qualified dentist and appropriate protocol is followed. Pittsburgh Dental Sleep Medicine has many years of experience with insurance processing and can maximize your insurance benefits.

Q: What about the cheap oral appliances I see advertised on TV or the Internet?

A: The cheap oral appliances available through TV advertising or the Internet may be somewhat effective for some people some of the time. However, more often than not, they are problematic for many reasons. Because they are not custom-made to fit you properly, they are typically big and bulky and not as comfortable as a custom-made appliance. In addition they typically do not stay on the teeth properly during sleep rendering them annoying and ineffective most of the time. They also lack the mechanical ability to move the lower jaw properly into the correct position to maximize effectiveness. Complicating all these problems is the fact that they properly trained dentists is not available to oversee and monitor the process. Most of the time a diagnostic sleep study has not been performed initially to actually assess the degree of the sleep apnea and a follow-up sleep study is not performed to objectively assess the effectiveness of the appliance. Furthermore, certain side effects are possible with any oral appliance therapy and a physician and properly trained dentist should always be part of the team managing snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Several research papers bear this out.