Patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea and are not tolerating their CPAP treatment look for substitutes to remedy their sleeping problems. A common alternative is a dental solution with the desire for a less obtrusive and more affordable treatment. Sleep Apnea & TMJ Solutions – Dr. Stephen D. Poss of greater Nashville, TN can offer custom-tailored options for each patient, taking into account their medical concerns and issues. While oral appliances are an excellent choice for some patients, we discuss a few facts to consider before settling on oral appliance therapy.
When is an oral appliance a viable solution?
Oral appliances are typically prescribed for mild to moderate sleep apnea and snoring, caused by a repetitive restriction to the airway. Airway restriction usually is present due to an anatomical issue like a floppy tongue, too much extra tissue in the throat, overweight, nasal blockages, or a swollen uvula. The seriousness of a patient’s sleep apnea is determined primarily by the number of stopped breathing cycles per hour of sleep, as these can result in low blood oxygen levels. Patients should be careful while weighing treatments, as severe sleep apnea can lead to serious conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure or diabetes.
Before choosing any form of treatment, patients should complete an initial evaluation with a board-certified sleep specialist practicing in an accredited sleep disorders center. An overnight sleep study may be prescribed to determine the severity of the problem, which also provides a baseline from which to measure any future treatment efficacy. Most dental insurance policies cover the first consultation and overnight sleep study. Some patients may need a referral from either their dentist or primary care provider for the sleep evaluation., based on their coverage. Sleep apnea oral appliances are usually covered by medical insurance, rather than dental insurance.