Dental appliances, also known as oral appliance therapy, is a common treatment solution for sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep. Custom build adjustable appliances such as mandibular advancement devices (MADs) or tongue retaining devices (TRDs) can help keep the airway open and improve breathing and sleep quality. However, proper fitting and follow-up care are crucial for their effectiveness and longevity. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of these factors and how they can impact sleep apnea treatment.
A poorly fitted dental appliance can lead to discomfort and even make sleep apnea symptoms worse. This is commonly seen with over the counter snore guard solutions. Many ill-fitted MAD can cause jaw or tooth pain and the extra bulk can make them difficult to wear. While a TRD that is too tight can cause tongue soreness and poor compliance. Proper fitting ensures the device is comfortable and effective in keeping the airway open.
To ensure a proper fit, it is important to work with a qualified dentist who has extra training in sleep apnea management. Dentists are the only professional who can create a custom built MAD that is specifically tailored to your unique needs. Treatment involves an extensive exam and work up, as well as taking impressions or digital scans of your teeth and mouth to ensure a perfect fit.
After the appliance is delivered, proper follow-up care is essential for the longevity and effectiveness of the dental appliance. Initial follow up visits can address any discomfort you may be experiencing as well as help you find the ideal spot to manage your soring and sleep apnea symptoms. Follow up visits are scheduled frequently for the first few months until a repeat sleep study is performed which will verify that the MAD is appropriately treating your sleep apnea. If the sleep apnea is not well managed additional adjustments will be completed until your dentist and medical doctor advise that it is safe to go on long term recall. Once on recall annual check-up visits are recommended in order to ensure that the device is still fitting properly and to identify any issues or side effects before they become more significant problems. Additionally, your sleep dentist can offer advice on proper cleaning and maintenance to help extend the life of your device.
Regular check-ups can also help your medical care team monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed. If your device is not providing the desired results, your sleep specialist may recommend an alternative treatment.
Longevity and Effectiveness
Proper fitting and follow-up care can significantly increase the longevity and effectiveness of your dental appliance. A well-fitted and properly maintained device can last for many years and provide effective long term results. On the other hand, a poorly fitted or neglected device may be difficult to wear, or need to be replaced sooner, and may not provide adequate management of your sleep breathing issues.
Dental appliances are an effective treatment for sleep apnea, but proper fitting and follow-up care are essential for their effectiveness and longevity. Working with a well trained dentist will ensure the appliance fits appropriately, is optimized to improve treatment outcomes and help manage side effects. Following up regularly can ensure that your device is working properly and can provide better results for years to come. If you are in need of a dental appliance for sleep apnea or have concerns about an existing device, contact our dental appliance clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado.