While the CPAP machine may be the most widely known treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it isn’t the only option. Oral appliance therapy is an increasingly popular treatment to help improve symptoms, sleep quality and overall health. An oral appliance for sleep apnea looks like a cross between a mouth guard and a retainer. The appliance, which is custom-created by your dentist/sleep specialist at NYC SleepWell, holds the jaw slightly more forward than normal, which keeps the upper airway open, reduces snoring, and helps you breathe freely through the night.
Long known as the standard for sleep apnea treatment, the CPAP machine is still an effective treatment for many. On the other hand, a large percentage of people who have tried CPAP have discontinued its use due to inconvenience and discomfort. In addition, the CPAP is cumbersome to travel with – and it requires distilled water, which is not always readily available. Studies reveal that just 42% still use their CPAP after 5 years, and many don’t get beyond the first month. As a result, for many patients CPAP ends up under the bed collecting dust, while the patient continues to suffer from the harmful symptoms and side effects of sleep apnea. Meanwhile, the oral appliance is increasing in popularity as awareness grows of just how effective it is for treatment of sleep apnea. In fact, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has approved custom oral appliance therapy as a first line treatment for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea – and they also recommend the oral appliance for patients with severe sleep apnea who are unable to tolerate or wear CPAP devices.
At NYC SleepWell, our dentists and sleep specialists can custom create an oral appliance for you. We use state-of-the-art imaging to analyze your mouth, jaw and airways and then design the oral appliance to fit your specific requirements. The first step in the process is to schedule an appointment for a consultation and physical exam, at which time we’ll review your medical history and symptoms. If we do determine that you indeed have sleep apnea, we will then recommend an overnight sleep test. The sleep test can be done in a sleep lab or we also offer a home sleep test that you can do in the comfort of your own home. Many prefer the convenience and comfort of the home sleep test. It’s essential that patients undergoing oral appliance therapy receive on-going care, including regular follow-up appointments. The purpose of on-going care is to assess and monitor the patient’s sleep disorder, the condition of the oral appliance, and the patient’s physical response to the appliance. Follow-up appointments will also ensure the oral appliance is comfortable and effective.
The cost of a custom oral appliance is usually covered by your medical insurance. This includes the actual appliance, appointments, adjustments, follow ups and modifications to your appliance. Our financial specialists at NYC SleepWell are here to help you decipher your insurance information and deal with your insurance company to maximize your benefits for an oral appliance or any other treatment we offer for sleep apnea.
While many store-bought mouth guards and appliances claim to prevent snoring and grinding, none of them are designed or have been approved to treat sleep apnea. If you suffer from sleep apnea and are seeking a true alternative to CPAP or surgical treatment, a custom-made appliance is the recommended and most effective option by far. At NYC SleepWell, our team of sleep specialists includes dentists, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, ENT surgeons, and anaesthesiologists, so we’re well-prepared to offer any treatment option you prefer. Our goal, plain and simple, is to help you sleep well – and be healthy!