Your Apnea Oral Appliance Isn’t Working
A useful tool when encountering an obstacle or an unwanted outcome is to wonder why and determine what is happening that may be producing the unwanted condition.
When an oral appliance does not resolve apnea symptoms, we are faced with a decision as whether to pursue the situation further or “give up”. Oral appliance therapy is more than just making and fitting an appliance. Becoming educated about this is what you are doing at this moment.
So, the first questions we can ask when an oral appliance does not resolve apnea symptoms are how and why was this particular oral appliance chosen? What other oral appliances were considered? What were their strengths and weaknesses in relationship to your needs?
Oral appliances are not all alike, nor are people. Determining the best match between an oral appliance and each patient and then working to further tailor the fit, design and settings of the appliance to fit and function optimally is referred to as “oral appliance therapy”. Even if the appliance is resolving the apnea and snoring, is it accomplishing this optimally, with minimal unwanted side effects and maximum comfort?
Obstructive sleep apnea oral appliances are designed to function during sleep, where the posture and muscle tone is different than when awake. Oral appliances are different in:
Type: tongue retaining devices and mandibular repositioning devices
How easy it is to clean and keep clean
How durable the appliance is
Whether and how easily and conveniently it can be modified
Whether and how conveniently it can be repaired
How the appliance is anchored to your teeth
How much tongue space it provides or even allows
Whether and how easily it can modify the three-dimensional position of the jaws
Whether it can attain or maintain an ideal jaw position for you
The amount and degree of jaw movement it provides
Trial procedures involve “sleep testing” both tongue retaining and mandibular repositioning “trial” devices to determine how those differences apply to you.
Fitting and follow-up procedures help you maximize the fit and function for success. All of this requires time and expertise. If your appliance was unsuccessful in resolving your snoring or sleep apnea symptoms or you have not been able to use your appliance because of unmanageable side effects, even if you just “had an oral appliance made for you” don’t give up. Oral appliance therapy suggests first getting other professional opinions.