Through: Teresa DeNike
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, there is a 90% chance that your doctor has recommended Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). There’s a reason for that — CPAP is incredibly effective — but it may not be right for you, and the tubing can be a pain to get to sleep.
If you can’t use CPAP, or want another treatment, don’t worry. Oral device therapy is a great second option.
Before we get into the dos and don’ts of oral device therapy, let’s take a look at why exactly you need to treat sleep apnea and snoring.
Why Sleep Apnea Shouldn’t Go Untreated?
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition, linked to Alzheimer’s disease, periodontitis and cardiovascular failure. As for snoring, sleep separation is remarkably common and can have a devastating effect on relationships.
So if you suffer from these conditions and don’t want to use CPAP, an oral appliance is important. Fortunately, it’s relatively simple – no different than a retainer or clear aligner.
Do’s and Don’ts of Oral Device Therapy
That said, here are three dos and don’ts to make sure it works effectively and hygienically.
- To do: Plan to wear the device during sleep every night
- To do: Rinse, clean and store it every morning
- To do: Tell your dentist if you experience pain
- do not: Freak out
- do not: Let your dog reach your device
- do not: Put it in the dishwasher
Do: Plan to wear the device during sleep every night
Consistency is important for other types of oral hardware, such as retainers and clear aligners, but even more so for oral devices. If you do not wear cosmetic hardware, there is a danger that your teeth will shift and the treatment will not be effective. If you do not wear an oral sleep apnea device, there is a danger that your cardiovascular, oral and cognitive health will suffer.
Do: rinse, clean and store every morning
This may go without saying, but keeping your oral appliance clean is essential for good oral hygiene. Brushing it gently every morning, drying it and storing it properly will reduce the risk of bacteria and general coarseness.
Do: Tell your dentist if you experience pain
These devices are custom made for your mouth; if it doesn’t fit properly, that could be a problem. The pain could potentially be related to bite and jaw problems, so if you experience pain wearing your device, let your dentist know and they can fix the problem.
Don’t: freak out
Because this device is custom-fitted to your mouth, it should fit snugly. If you have trouble getting used to it, wear it for a few minutes during the day or at night before going to sleep. Tightness, pain and discomfort should disappear within a week or two.
Don’t: Let Your Dog Reach Your Device
Seriously – dogs love these things. Keep it in the case and out of reach! Device manufacturers offer a warranty for your device, but it rarely covers damage from dogs.
Don’t: put it in the dishwasher
While it is critical to keep the appliance clean, leave it out of the dishwasher! It can compromise the integrity and strength of your device’s materials and cause it to degrade and become ineffective.
Oral device therapy may be for you
That’s the basis of why you could use oral appliance therapy instead of CPAP and how to use it! The most important thing when considering oral appliance therapy is to check with your doctor and dentist to make sure it’s a good option for you.
photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush