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Oral Appliance Therapy Specialist

Katharine Christian, DMD -  - Dental Sleep Medicine

Snoring & Sleep Apnea Center

Katharine Christian, DMD

Dental Sleep Medicine located in Belltown, Seattle, WA

Have you tried to treat your sleep apnea with CPAP, only to experience uncomfortable side effects? Oral appliance therapy is an effective alternative to CPAP that can prevent snoring and sleep apnea. At Snoring & Sleep Apnea Center, an accredited dental sleep medicine facility in Seattle, Washington, Katharine Christian, DMD, specializes in creating customized oral appliances that relieve your symptoms and allow you to get restorative sleep. To learn if oral appliance therapy is a good option for you, call the office or book an appointment online.

Oral Appliance Therapy Q & A

What is oral appliance therapy?

Oral appliance therapy is a treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. The dental device consists of two pieces that go over your upper and lower teeth, much like orthodontic retainers. You wear the appliance while you sleep, and it keeps your airway open.

There are two types of oral appliances that prevent soft tissues from covering the airway while you sleep: tongue-retaining devices and mandibular advancement devices. Tongue-retaining devices only prevent the tongue from falling backward over the airway. 

Mandibular advancement devices, the preferred option, move your lower jaw forward. The slight change in jaw position enlarges the airway while also ensuring your tongue doesn’t move backward while you sleep.

When should I consider oral appliance therapy?

You may choose oral appliance therapy as your first treatment for sleep apnea or snoring. Oral appliances are just as effective as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. 

Many patients, however, begin their sleep apnea treatment with CPAP. Then they switch to oral appliance therapy when they can’t tolerate CPAP.

In addition to discomfort from the mask and air pressure, patients often develop symptoms of CPAP intolerance, such as:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Skin, eye, or sinus irritation
  • Bloating
  • Headaches

You may also have ongoing drowsiness if CPAP isn’t working for you.

What happens before I get an oral appliance?

Your provider at Snoring & Sleep Apnea Center first evaluates your mouth and teeth to be sure you don’t have a dental problem that prevents you from using an oral appliance.

Then they use advanced technology to produce exceptional results. For example, your provider uses acoustic reflection to fully evaluate your airways and ensure your oral appliance is as effective as possible.

You also get the best-fitting oral appliance because Snoring & Sleep Apnea Center uses digital impressions to produce precise impressions of your upper and lower teeth.

What type of oral appliance might I receive?

There are many different brands of mandibular advancement devices, but they fall into two categories, long-term and short-term:

Long-term oral appliances

Long-term oral appliances are stronger, made of materials that resist odors and staining, and last 3-7 years.

It takes 3-6 appointments to get a finished, long-term oral appliance, but in the end, the appliance has advantages such as:

  • It’s custom fabricated at a qualified, professional lab
  • Its custom contours are less bulky
  • It’s designed to allow fine adjustments
  • It’s adjustable in every direction for optimal fit and comfort

The team at Snoring & Sleep Apnea Center chooses the type of appliance that’s best for you and creates one-of-a-kind appliances that harmonize with your mouth for the long term.

Short-term oral appliances

You may want a short-term appliance when you need a quick, cost-effective option. Short-term appliances are also great if you tolerate CPAP, but you want a dental device to wear when you’re away from home and can’t take CPAP with you.

Short-term sleep apnea appliances consist of a one-size-fits-all, plastic U-shaped shell. Your provider places the shell in hot water, which softens the plastic. Then the material is pressed over your teeth to create a better fit.

These appliances last only weeks to months and aren’t adjustable. However, they require less clinic time and no lab processing.

To learn more about oral appliance therapy, call Snoring & Sleep Apnea Center, or schedule an appointment online.