Q: What is an oral appliance?
A: It is an FDA-approved piece of plastic that fits within the mouth and holds the jaw in a more forward position to allow easier breathing when you sleep.
Q: Is there only one available?
A: There are several appliances available. Only a few are accepted by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Some dentists make their own appliances, few of which have been tested for efficacy. Ours are fabricated by a certified dental lab.
Q: Do oral appliances all work the same?
A: Oral appliances are designed differently with their hardware in different positions. While the underlying effect of one may be the same as the other, you may not be able to use a certain appliance because of the anatomy of your mouth or allergies. We consider these when determining which appliances would best work for you.
Q: How long do they last?
A: The lifespan of an oral appliance varies depending on design, lasting anywhere from months to years. Some require more repairs than others and some must be sent back to the laboratory to be repaired. However, we have an in-office lab and can repair some, depending on the extent. Grinding your teeth shortens the lifespan of your appliance dramatically and very severe grinders may find an appliance impossible to wear.
Q: How do I choose the correct appliance for me?
A: Our job to help guide patients to selecting an appliance that fits their lifestyle and anatomy. Some allow you to speak easily, others make it impossible. However, all allow you to breathe through your mouth if your nose is stuffy.
Q: How do I know it's working?
A: The real answer would be to have another sleep study done, which would prove how effective the oral appliance is. Most patients wait to be retested until their snoring stops and their symptoms go away.
Q: How do I take care of my appliance?
A: Just like you do your own teeth... You need to brush the appliance thoroughly, inside and out, each morning when you take it out. Pay attention to all of the hardware and small nooks and crannies.
Q: Are there side effects?
A: Short-term side effects may include excess salivation, dry mouth, tooth pain, or joint pain. All are easily corrected with time or adjustment of the appliance. Literature shows that up to half of patients wearing an oral appliance long-term may have minor changes in the position of their teeth. You must balance the benefits of the appliance against any negative side effects.
Q: Does insurance cover this type of therapy?
A: Most medical insurance companies cover oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea. Although most cover craniomandibular orthopedic devices, there are some policies that have specific coverage maximums and/or exclusions. Read your policy carefully and speak to your insurance representative prior to your visit. Companies generally do not cover treatment for primary snoring (snoring only) appliances. It is imperative that you know your policy, your best tool to stay one step ahead of the insurance companies.
Q: How do I find out how much my insurance company will cover for this treatment?
A: Once you have been in for our consultation appointment our office can send a letter to your insurance company asking for a pretreatment determination of benefits under your policy. The insurance company will respond by sending a letter back to you (with a copy to us) explaining your coverage. If the letter does not specify what percentage of the cost is covered, we recommend that you call your insurance company to get that information.
Q: What do I need to pay for care at the time of the first visit?
A: Our office charges a single case fee for all services pertaining to your treatment. This case fee includes ALL exams, consultations, x-rays, and an appliance for the first 6 months of treatment. A fee may be requested at the first visit to cover the initial exam and needed x-rays. This initial payment will be credited to the treatment case fee if you decide to move forward with treatment.