May 14, 2022
Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea or you’re ready to cut ties with your CPAP, an oral appliance is a great solution. The custom-fit device repositions the lower jaw forward to keep the airway open. When used nightly, it’s an effective method of treating mild-to-moderate cases of sleep apnea; however, it’s going to take time to adjust to wearing it. Don’t give up after a few nights. Here’s what you need to know to make the transition easier.
What to Expect with a New Oral Appliance
An oral appliance is an FDA-approved method of treating obstructive sleep apnea. It can be used alone or along with a CPAP to prevent interruptions in breathing caused by the narrowing of the airway. It will hold your jaw and tongue forward so you can breathe better.
Your oral appliance is carefully made to fit your mouth like a glove, but it will feel foreign for a few days. It’s not unusual to experience slight discomfort or tightness, but that’s a sign your oral appliance isn’t going to fall out while you’re sleeping.
Some patients experience gagging or drooling when getting used to the device. It’s not uncommon for nighttime removals to occur for the first couple of weeks. Rest assured, any discomfort or complications will be short-lived.
How to Adjust to Your Oral Appliance
As they say, practice makes perfect. The more you wear your oral appliance, the quicker you will adjust to it. Any soreness or tightness should resolve within 3 weeks. If the device is making you gag, wear it for short periods throughout the day. This can also help with nighttime removals. As your body gets used to the device, your saliva production will decrease to normal, resolving drooling. As you lay down for the night, try to relax. If you focus on the oral appliance, it can make the transition time more challenging.
If you haven’t adjusted to the oral appliance after 3 weeks, it’s time to give your sleep apnea dentist a call. They may need to make adjustments or replace the appliance. Although adjusting to a new appliance can be difficult, the risks of untreated sleep apnea are far more serious.
Sleep Soundly Tonight
You won’t toss and turn at night with the convenience and comfort of an oral appliance. Your sleep dentist will explain everything during your consultation and address any concerns. Once your new oral appliance is ready, you’ll head home with the knowledge you need to sleep peacefully.
If your first night with the device doesn’t go well, don’t give up. It will be a comfortable part of your bedtime routine in just a couple of weeks.
About Dr. Bernard L. Greenbaum
Dr. Greenbaum earned his dental degree from the Georgetown University School of Dentistry and has completed extensive continuing education in many specialties, like oral appliances. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. If you are ready to treat your sleep apnea or snoring with an oral appliance, contact our office today to request your consultation.
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