Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)
Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can improve your sleep, restore your alertness and revitalize your health. Here is a guide to help you get started with this life-changing treatment.
About Oral Appliance Therapy
Worn only during sleep, an oral appliance fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
If you and your doctor decide that oral appliance therapy is the best treatment option for you, then your doctor will write a prescription for you to receive a custom-made oral appliance. You also will receive a referral to a qualified dentist who can provide oral appliance therapy. More than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance. Your dentist will recommend the oral appliance that is best for you. Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment that fits easily into your lifestyle. Patients like oral appliance therapy because it is:
Easy to wear
Convenient for travel
Easy to care for
How a Dentist Can Help: The First Visit?
Dentists work closely with physicians to treat snoring and sleep apnea. At your first visit, your dentist will talk to you about the benefits of treatment. You also will receive information on the potential side effects and the cost of therapy.
Then your dentist will conduct a complete clinical evaluation. This will include an examination of your teeth, jaw, tongue and airway, and possibly a new X-ray of your mouth.
Making and Fitting Your Oral Appliance
Oral appliances are customized using digital or physical impressions and models of your teeth. These models are sent to a dental lab where the appliance is made.
Once your oral appliance is ready, you will return to your dentist’s office for a fitting. Your dentist will adjust the appliance to maximize its comfort and effectiveness. You also will learn how to clean the oral appliance and maintain it. After this fitting, your sleep doctor may schedule you for a sleep study to verify treatment success.
Follow-up visits with your dentist will be needed to ensure the optimal fit of the oral appliance. Effective oral appliances are always custom fit and adjusted over time to ensure maximum effectiveness. Your dentist also will schedule you for an annual assessment. These routine visits are an important part of your long-term treatment success.
Living with Oral Appliance Therapy
Treating snoring or obstructive sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy can help you feel like a new person. You will find that your symptoms, and your quality of life, can improve dramatically when you remain committed to your treatment and use it nightly. It is likely that you will sleep better, have more energy and feel sharper throughout the day. You may find that your bed partner begins to sleep better, too!
Treating sleep apnea promotes a healthier heart, body and mind. With your dentist’s help, you can improve your sleep and your health!