The Patient Experience
Wondering what it's like to work with a qualified dentist to treat your obstructive sleep apnea or snoring? Read on to learn more about the common steps involved in oral appliance therapy.
Step 1: Screening
To screen for OSA, your dentist will ask about your:
Your dentist may then record your height, weight, blood pressure, and size of your neck. It is common for your dentist to also examine your teeth, jaw, gums, tongue, and back of throat and take photographs or x-rays of your teeth and jaw.
Step 2: DiagnosisQualified dentists work closely with doctors who diagnose OSA, so your dentist will recommend that you schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or a doctor who specializes in treating sleep problems if they believe you could be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea but haven’t been diagnosed yet.
Your doctor will perform a sleep evaluation. This may involve either an overnight sleep test at a sleep center or a home sleep apnea test (HSAT). A sleep specialist will interpret the data from your sleep test. The information from the evaluation and the sleep test results will be used to determine if you have OSA. If you have OSA or snoring, your doctor will prescribe a treatment for you.
A common treatment for OSA is to use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. If you are interested in an oral appliance instead of a CPAP device, be sure to let your doctor know. After the doctor prescribes your oral appliance, you can then contact your qualified dentist to start treatment.
Step 3: Making, Fitting, and Positioning Your Appliance
Your qualified dentist will explain the different types of oral appliances and will discuss which one is the best for you. The dentist’s office will also be able to confirm your insurance coverage for the appliance. To make your personalized appliance, the dentist will take impressions of your teeth. Some dentists use quick-drying putty while others take digital images of your mouth.
Once your oral appliance has been created, you will have another appointment with the dentist to make sure the appliance fits you well. Your dentist will show you how to put the appliance in your mouth and take it out and will adjust the appliance as needed to make sure you have maximum comfort. During this appointment, you will also learn how to care for your appliance and adjust it so that it is in the best position to treat your OSA or snoring.
Throughout the entire process, you will not be alone! Your dentist will have you schedule follow up appointments and will ask you questions to ensure you are receiving the best care possible. Once your dentist determines that your oral appliance is doing its job correctly, you will be asked to schedule an appointment with your doctor to make sure that the treatment is effectively reducing your OSA or snoring.
Step 4: Follow Up
Your qualified dentist will schedule regular follow up appointments with you for as long as you use your oral appliance.