600-777 Hornby St.
Vancouver, B.C.
V6Z 1S4

F: 604 558-3400
[email protected]

Proudly Accredited by the Diagnostic Accreditation Program of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC

FAQ Oral Appliances

FAQIf you have any problems using your oral appliance, please contact Vancouver Sleep Solutions at the first sign of any symptoms. Each person will require individual assistance based on the type of problem, their equipment and their prescription.

The following information is not intended to replace the advice of your dentist or health care professional. It should be considered a source of education but should not be used to treat or make judgments on your condition. You should not start, stop or change any treatment plan without consulting your dentist.

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What is an oral appliance?

An oral appliance is a small device, similar to an orthodontic retainer or an athletic mouthguard. It is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft throat tissues from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Some appliances hold the lower jaw forward during sleep while others have direct effect on tongue position.

Oral appliances relieve Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and snoring by realigning the jaw and/or tongue in relation to the head. Although oral appliances do not work on everybody, a well-made, well-fitted appliance may reduce or eliminate snoring, and may significantly relieve symptoms of OSA.

What are the advantages of using an oral appliance?

Oral appliances offer relief from the effects of sleep apnea while avoiding the more expensive and invasive option of surgery. Some patients find that the right oral appliance works as the perfect solution for nighttime peace and freedom from interrupted sleep. Oral appliances may target snoring or interrupted breathing, or both. With the right appliance, patients can improve the quality and duration of sleep, reduce daytime sleepiness, improve airflow, reduce the volume or frequency of snoring, and reduce or eliminate apneic events (paused breathing). Oral appliances are also more portable, smaller, and easier to use than the CPAP option.

Will wearing an oral appliance put stress on my jaw joint?

Much research and testing has been performed to study the effects of oral appliances. Most oral appliances are FDA-approved for health and safety and do not pose any dangers under normal usage. A small number of patients may experience some jaw or tooth stress, at which point readjustments usually prove to be successful. Research has shown changes in tooth and jaw position over time, but these problems are usually minor and well tolerated by patients. Few patients would give up their appliances because of these problems.

Are oral appliances awkward or difficult to wear?

Your oral appliance will be custom fit for maximum comfort and ease. There will be a short period of adjustment during which your mouth will adapt to the sensation of the oral appliance. If, for some reason, the appliance is noticeably uncomfortable, we will readjust the appliance to your liking.

What are the side effects of wearing an oral appliance?

Side effects are genuinely mild and generally take only a short time to adapt to. Depending on the oral appliance you choose, side effects can include mouth dryness, excessive salivation, tooth or jaw joint soreness. Many of these problems are self-limiting and go away in a short time for most patients. Bite changes may occur with time and often patients are unaware of these changes or find them favorable. If patients are aware of bite changes they should immediately contact us for advice on limiting or reversing changes.

Do oral appliances work?

Yes! Several current studies have shown oral appliances to be highly effective in treating the symptoms of sleep apnea, especially snoring and interrupted breathing. Patients must be consistent with usage and must follow our instructions.

Is sleep apnea treatment with oral appliances expensive?

We aim to make all treatment options affordable, so our patients can choose the optimum treatment for their needs, with little worry about cost. Oral appliance therapy costs are similar to that of other apnea treatments, and many insurance plans may cover a portion of the fees. Contact your extended health provider for details on what, or how much, your individual plan covers.

Will an oral appliance help me finally get enough sleep?

Most sleep apnea patients respond very well to appliance therapy. Your oral appliance will be custom-fitted to target your unique combination of sleep apnea symptoms so you can get a good night’s rest. It will not take the place of healthy sleep habits and sufficient time set aside for sleep.

Which oral appliance should I use?

There are so many different types of appliances to accommodate the varying characteristics of sleep apnea patients, such as jaw size and shape, type and severity of apnea, and tolerance levels. Each appliance has a unique method of function and will have different effects on different patients. After a thorough exam and sleep evaluation, we will recommend the appliance that should give you optimum results. Keep in mind that the appliance you choose will be custom-fitted and tailored to your mouth’s anatomy. The position of the jaw is the most important factor in treatment and can only be confirmed with diagnostic polysomnography (sleep test). Once that position is found, the majority of patients are happy with their initial appliance. Any other appliances can be constructed to the same position for maximum patient comfort.

How long will my oral appliance last?

Depending on which appliance you choose, they can last years. Most appliances are generally constructed to withstand normal wear and tear well, we can repair or reinforce your appliance periodically to increase its functionality. Tooth grinding and other excess wear and tear may shorten the lifespan of your appliance.

How do I tell if my oral appliance is doing its job?

You should feel noticeably more rested than before you started wearing the appliance. You should notice that you are sleeping through the night without any sudden awakenings, and your partner may notice that you’ve stopped snoring. The most definitive way to tell that an oral appliance is working is by undergoing a follow-up sleep study.

How long must I wear the appliance?

Oral appliances are not a permanent cure for snoring and OSA but if worn during sleep will usually prevent either or both from occurring. Regardless of how long it is worn, the symptoms of OSA and/or snoring will return when the appliance is discontinued.

Do I have to wear the appliance all night?

Yes. Studies indicate that OSA is most severe during the early morning hours. It is, therefore, very important for you to use the appliance at all times during sleep. During the first few weeks while you are adjusting to the appliance, it may be necessary to start with shorter periods and gradually increase the length of time until you can comfortably wear the appliance all night. Many patients are able to wear the oral appliance on the first night and experience no discomfort.

What ongoing care and maintenance do I need to perform on my appliance?

You will need to clean your appliance each morning by brushing it with a toothbrush and special cleaning agent. Examine the hardware of your appliance often to make sure nothing is out of place. You may be asked to come in to see us for periodic adjustments and maintenance. Excellent oral care (brushing and flossing) is important while using oral appliances. Contact us today for more information on sleep apnea treatment including sleep apnea devices and appliances and how you can seek relief from snoring and other sleeping disorders. Call or email our office today for your sleep apnea consultation.