What Is Oral Appliance Therapy?

Your jaw is the main bony support for your throat. The only other bone in the throat, the hyoid, isn’t attached to any other bone. Otherwise, the throat depends on muscles and cartilage to stay open. When you’re awake, the muscles are alert, and gravity helps hold the throat open.

But when you lie down and fall asleep, the muscles relax and gravity can pull your throat closed. This is the common scenario behind obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Oral appliance therapy uses the bony support for your throat一the jaw一to help keep your airway open. Designed by Rochester Hills sleep dentist Dr. Matthew Wolfe, this holds your jaw in a position that supports an open airway. You put it in at night before going to sleep and it helps you keep breathing.

Who Is a Candidate for Oral Appliance Therapy?

Oral appliance therapy is only a treatment for OSA. If you only have central sleep apnea (CSA), you are not a candidate for oral appliance therapy.

People who don’t respond well to CPAP are also good candidates for oral appliance therapy. Most doctors want you to try CPAP for 90 days before giving up on it, but be careful一if you wait too long, you might be stuck paying for your CPAP machine.

However, the modern rules of most insurance companies don’t require you to try CPAP first before getting an oral appliance. If you have mild or moderate sleep apnea, you can use this therapy as your frontline treatment. If you have severe OSA, your insurance company might require you to try CPAP first.

If you have severe sleep apnea, it might be good to get additional treatments to help. This might include home care like weight loss or surgery to reduce the severity of your apnea.

During your consultation, Rochester Hills sleep dentist Dr. Wolfe will talk to you about your options.

The Oral Appliance Therapy Process

If you have not been diagnosed with OSA, Rochester Hills sleep dentist Dr. Wolfe will first recommend a sleep study. This might be an at-home sleep study.

If your sleep study and other factors show you’re a candidate for oral appliance therapy, Dr. Wolfe will help determine the optimal position for your jaw, and will make a recommendation based on your needs. He will take a digital impression of your teeth and send the specifications to the lab, where technicians will craft your custom oral appliance.

When the appliance is ready, he will show you how to wear it, how to adjust it, and how to care for it.

Then you just put the appliance in before going to sleep and enjoy a deep, restful sleep.

Looking for a CPAP Alternative in Rochester Hills?

If you have sleep apnea but either can’t use or don’t want to use CPAP, an oral appliance might be right for you. Please call (248) 651-0897 today to talk to sleep dentist Dr. Matthew Wolfe at Signature Dentistry of Rochester in Rochester Hills.