Sleep Apnea Checklist

10 Steps to Take As You Await Your Dental Sleep Apnea Device

Have you decided to move ahead with your oral appliance therapy for your Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or snoring issues?

If so, I bet you are excited and hopeful that your apneic symptoms may be resolved by wearing an oral appliance device!

While you are waiting to receive your device, here are 10 things to consider that can help you achieve long term success from your treatment:

1. It is vital to understand what is happening to your body during an apneic episode and what can happen if left untreated.

  • Ask your sleep dentist, sleep physician or medical provider for an easy to understand explanation of what happens to you while you are asleep when you have sleep apnea.
  • If they “go over your head” or their explanation is a little too abstract this short video can explain OSA clearly and visually.
  • Here are some severe health problems you may develop if your OSA is left untreated:
Severe health problems for Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea

2. If you have been irregular with dental care, get back on track with your regular visits and cleanings.

  • Healthy teeth and gums give you a strong foundation to support an oral sleep device for the long stretch and to minimize potential side effects of therapy.
  • If dental repairs are needed, ideally get them taken care of before your oral sleep appliance device impressions are taken.
    • If you are past that, it may be best to wait until you receive the device and the fit has been confirmed.
    • Discuss any upcoming dental work with your sleep apnea dental provider if different from your general dentist.
  • If you have been considering Invisalign or orthodontics, realize you will not be able to go through these treatments and wear your sleep apnea device at the same time.
    • Make sure to discuss questions on this with your general dentist or sleep apnea dental provider.

3. Use alternative OSA therapy while you are waiting for your mouthguard to arrive.

  • Sleeping on your side if previously mentioned by a medical provider can impact the severity of your apnea while awaiting treatment.
  • Continue using a CPAP if you have been able to do so. 
  • Continue to wear your older oral device, unless it no longer fits or is broken.
  • If you wear a night guard for teeth grinding, continue wearing it.

4. Review your nutrition and lifestyle habits for improvements.

  • An oral appliance is effective in approximately up to 70-80% of cases.
    • If you are overweight or have been creeping up in weight over the years, please note that weight maintenance or loss can be an important adjunct to long term oral appliance treatment success.
  • Making small changes in your current eating or lifestyle habits works best for long term weight loss and management. 

Blog Alert – Our top tips for successful weight loss management:
The Importance of Weight Management/Loss With Successful Apnea Treatment
Stop Dieting and Shift to “Normal” Rules of Eating

5. Consider using Snore Lab app recording as a baseline report

  • If snoring is your main symptom and there is no one to let you know if your snoring levels improve, consider recording a night of your sleep before you get your device.
    • This will provide you with a base recording level to compare with after you start wearing a device.

Blog Alert – Using a Snore App
How to Use an App to Evaluate Snoring when wearing an Oral Appliance

6. Work on basic sleep hygiene.

  • Many other factors can affect sleep and how rested you feel after awakening.
  • Review other areas that may be affecting your sleep.
  • Small improvements can add up to be of great benefit.
  • Good sleep hygiene includes:
    • Plan on a regular bedtime and rise time, even on non-workdays.
    • Create a bedroom environment conducive to good sleep
    • Limit caffeine during the day.
    • To review other sleep hygiene tips see my blog: 14 Sleep Hygiene Tips to Improve Your Sleep 
Man with insomnia

7. If you have insomnia, work with a certified Behavioral Sleep Medical (BSM) specialist. 

  • A recent study has found that approximately 30% to 70% of insomnia patients also suffer from sleep apnea and on the flip-side, 40% to 60% of sleep apnea patients report insomnia symptoms
  • Studies show that those that have been diagnosed with insomnia and OSA have a higher chance of increased success when both are being treated at the same time.
  • Depending on where and which physician helped in your initial diagnosis of sleep apnea, proactive treatment concerning insomnia may have been instituted or unfortunately bypassed. Ideally, treatment for insomnia reaches beyond a sleep-aid prescription.
  • Clinicians trained in Behavioral Sleep Medicine (BSM) or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) can help individuals with insomnia symptoms as well as CPAP adherence
    • BSM and CBT-I focus on how thoughts, behaviors, and emotions cause or maintain problems with sleep
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia helps you overcome the underlying causes of your sleep problems, unlike sleep-aid prescriptions.
    • As helpful as behavioral sleep medicine can be in conquering sleep issues related to insomnia, CPAP adherence or other sleep disorders, there are very few sleep medical facilities that have this area of service at their location.

8. Bump up your nightly oral hygiene.

  •  Is it time to review your brushing or flossing technique?
    • This is a great time to discuss improvements in your daily and nightly home care with your dental hygienist.
  • Healthy teeth & gums make for a stronger foundation
    • This will help hold your oral sleep device in place while you sleep.
    • Suffer from dry mouth? You may be more susceptible to dental problems.
    • Good oral hygiene helps prevent tooth decay and gum problems.

9. Jaw exercises?

  • In some circumstances, your sleep apnea dentist may have recommended specific jaw exercises that may help your future progress with oral appliance therapy. 
    • If so, try to build them into your daily routine as discussed.

10. Encourage your family members to get properly evaluated for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

  • OSA tends to run in families.
  • Specific jaw and physical airway anatomy characteristics can put you at risk of having OSA.
  • Although weight increases the likelihood of having OSA, thin people can also have apnea.
  • If you have been diagnosed with having OSA, be observant for others in your immediate family who are chronic snorers
  • Sharing your sleep apnea diagnosis with your family members might save their life

Putting these 10 items to work before you receive your custom dental device can help your transition into treatment be more successful. 

Continuing to see your sleep dentist regularly after you have received your oral appliance can help you improve compliance and improve long-lasting results.

Need more help? Want to learn more?

Let me help you learn more about how your custom made dental device can help you to have better control over your snoring, sleep apnea, daytime tiredness and improve your overall health.

Take a quick look at my sleep guide to learn more!

Other Articles of Interest:
Oral Devices 101
Understanding how snoring can affect your sleep
How does Sleep Apnea affect your health

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