I snore but I don’t know if I have sleep apnea. What should I do next?
If snoring is interrupting your sleep or that of your loved ones, we recommend an initial sleep consultation with Dr. Waite to discuss your symptoms. If Dr. Waite suspects that you have sleep apnea along with your snoring, he will refer you to a sleep specialist for a more definitive diagnosis using an overnight sleep study. In many instances, sleep testing can now be done in the comfort of your own bed with a portable monitoring device rather than spending the night in a designated “sleep center.” After a sleep physician reviews the results of the test and a diagnosis is made, Dr. Waite will discuss the different treatment options available for your particular situation and help you on the road to receiving a great night’s sleep for you and your bed partner.
Are all dentists trained to provide oral appliance therapy (OAT)?
No. Dentists need specialized training in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and oral appliance therapy (OAT) in order to effectively treat your sleep disorder/snoring and get you back on the path to good health. Dr. Waite has not only received extensive training in dental sleep medicine, but remains dedicated to staying current on the latest studies and practices for treating your sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. He has invested years of training in OSA and OAT and is an active member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, the American Association of Sleep Medicine, and the Colorado Sleep Society. Moreover, with more than 90 devices on the current market, Dr. Waite has researched the most effective OAT treatments and is equipped to help you select the perfect device for your specific needs since there is not a “one size fits all” device. Dr. Waite also works with your physician(s) to make sure the treatment you are receiving is optimizing your overall health.
While evaluating potential providers, it is wise to consider and inquire about the dentist’s training and duration of training. A single day or weekend course is certainly not as comprehensive as someone who has dedicated years to continuing education. Additionally, you should consider the number of cases treated by the dentist, as experience will strongly influence the success of the treatment, as well as the provider’s ability to manage complications that may arise. Furthermore, OAT requires offices to bill medical insurance, not dental insurance. Dr. Waite’s office is expert at working through your insurance billing needs and can help you maximize your medical insurance benefits and minimize your out of pocket expenses, something most local offices do not provide.
Are the over-the-counter mouthpieces I can get at a drug store as effective as a custom oral appliance Dr Waite would use treat me? (in Red)
To specifically answer this question, scientific researchers performed a recent study. The findings concluded that only the custom-made oral appliances reduced sleep apnea, whereas over-the-counter or internet-purchased devices did not significantly treat sleep apnea. Further, custom-made oral appliances were shown to reduce snoring to a far greater extent than over-the-counter mouth devices. In fact, the study proved that nearly 70 percent of those who failed oral appliance therapy with an over the counter mouth device were then successfully treated with a custom-fit oral appliance. “Our results suggest that the thermoplastic [over-the-counter] device cannot be recommended as a therapeutic option nor can it be used as a screening tool to find good candidates for mandibular advancement therapy [process that uses custom made devices].”
Please do not fall victim to the commercials you may see on TV promoting “snoring appliances.” Your problem is a serious threat to your long-term health and requires expert care. Commercials guaranteeing results with just 2 easy payments of $19.95 cannot provide this to you! There is a critical difference between a custom-made appliance rendered by an experienced dentist and a clumsy one-size-fits-all appliance offered on TV or the Internet.
How do oral appliances treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring?
Oral appliances are worn in the mouth over the teeth during sleep, much like a retainer, to hold the jaw forward and prevent your airway from collapsing during sleep. This collapsing of the tongue, soft palate, and pharyngeal muscles are what cause you to stop breathing during sleep, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea. As the jaw is held in a slightly forward position by the oral appliance, the airway is opened allowing improved breathing and stopping of the snoring.
How successful are oral appliances at treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
When treating snoring, oral appliances are more than 90 percent successful. For OSA, results can vary between 60 to 80 percent effectiveness, depending on the severity of the sleep apnea. Oral appliances tend to be more successful for mild and moderate sleep apnea. However, Dr. Waite has also had great success treating many severe sleep apnea cases with oral appliances, with all patients reporting drastic quality-of-life improvements.
Is it difficult to wear an oral appliance?
Most of our patients happily report that after about one week they feel accustomed to wearing their oral device and are sleeping comfortably through the night with it. Patients who have previously worn mouth guards or retainers adjust even faster, usually within a couple days. More often than not, our patients are amazed at the comfort and easiness of wearing an oral device especially when compared with their CPAP device.
How long does it take to get an oral appliance?
Our custom-fit devices take around three to four weeks to manufacture. Dr. Waite only uses professionally made, custom fit, adjustable, oral appliances that are approved by the FDA for specifically treating snoring and sleep apnea (for examples of some of these devices, see our “Oral Appliance” section). After taking detailed records, x-rays, impressions, and a special bite registration, Dr. Waite will have your oral appliance produced by one of his partner labs. The specific time frame for delivery of your device largely depends on the specific device Dr Waite prescribes for your case.
How long can I expect my oral appliance to last?
The typical life expectancy of the oral appliances that Dr. Waite prescribes is between two to five years. This large range in longevity is due to several factors, including the particular device chosen, the oral environment it is subjected to, and the level of care given to the appliance. In fact, when well cared for, many of the appliances last more than five years. Some appliance manufacturers will also provide three-year to five-year warranties.
How do I know if my oral appliance is sufficiently treating my sleep apnea?
Each case of sleep apnea and snoring is different. Because of this, Dr. Waite works closely with you and your physician to make sure your treatment is progressing successfully. For sufferers of mild sleep apnea, Dr. Waite will continue to evaluate your case and treat your symptoms of snoring, fatigue and daytime tiredness until they are resolved. If you are diagnosed with moderate or severe sleep apnea, Dr. Waite uses the aforementioned methods along with home sleep testing (HST), with the oral appliance in place, to verify your device’s effectiveness. In most cases, Dr Waite will work to “fine tune” your device until it reaches the “sweet spot” where it is maximally effective. With moderate and severe sleep apnea it is generally recommended to return to a sleep lab for a full night sleep test. At that time, additional adjustment of the appliance can be done to improve treatment success, if necessary. A follow up consultation with your primary care physician or a board certified sleep physician is recommended to review the results of this sleep test.
Will my insurance cover my oral appliance therapy?
Oral appliance therapy is considered a medical treatment and as such is only covered by medical insurance, not dental insurance. Most of the major medical insurance carriers provide benefits for oral appliance therapy. The amount of coverage can vary widely depending on the carrier and your selected plan. We encourage you to call and check with your medical insurance company so that you are aware of what your coverage entails. We are happy to send information to your insurance company regarding your situation to request a determination of benefits. We have an experienced medical biller who will help you maximize your insurance benefits and minimize your out of pocket expenses as much as possible. Dental insurance companies do not cover treatment for sleep apnea or snoring, and medical insurance companies do not provide coverage for oral appliance therapy of snoring only. Aspen Ridge Sleep Solutions does offer payment plans, however, for those desiring to regain their quality of life, stop their snoring and utilize the benefits of non-invasive oral appliance therapy to treat their sleep disordered breathing.
Will my insurance cover both the cost of my CPAP and oral appliance therapy?
The short answer is, yes. We have many patients who would like to use both CPAP and oral appliance therapy, either together (an option called combination therapy) or in some alternating fashion. This is a very common practice and each therapy is viewed by medical insurance as separate and necessary. As such, we have had no instance of medical insurance companies not covering one therapy solely based on the fact that another therapy has been or will continue to be used.
What are the possible consequences of not treating my sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is known as “The Silent Killer.” It is not a syndrome to be ignored. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is strongly linked with many serious and life-threatening conditions including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and chronic sleepiness. It can also result in many socially debilitating consequences such as poor job performance, additional marital stress, increased motor vehicle accidents, decreased quality of life, and decreased libido. Patients who have suffered from OSA for years and who currently use an oral appliance to now treat their disorder are amazed immediately by the change in their quality of life. All of Dr. Waite’s oral appliance therapy patients find themselves wishing they had started this minimally invasive treatment sooner.
Does sleep apnea always lead to daytime tiredness and fatigue?
Not necessarily. In some people, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may not lead to the obvious symptoms of daytime tiredness or fatigue, much like high blood pressure or high cholesterol don’t necessarily manifest themselves with daily symptoms but are nevertheless extreme health risks. The lack of symptoms does not indicate a normal level of health. If you have been diagnosed with OSA and have no apparent symptoms, your health is still being severely compromised.
I had a sleep test a long time ago, and it showed that I have sleep apnea. I didn’t do anything about it then. Can I do something now?
Absolutely! Obstructive sleep apnea is actually a very serious condition and can be life-threatening. If you tested positive and have not treated it, most likely sleep apnea is still present and shortening your lifespan, especially if you still have the typical symptoms of fatigue and morning grogginess. In fact, snoring and sleep apnea usually get worse with age and weight gain. Depending on how long ago your sleep test took place, your study information may still be valid for current insurance billing purposes. It is imperative to treat your OSA as soon as possible for your own health. Dr. Waite also offers in-home sleep monitors that are simple to use and can provide much of the needed information for helping treat your OSA if your old sleep study is out of date. Dr Waite works with board certified sleep physicians to read and interpret these studies to ensure your OSA is treated appropriately.
5410 Powers Center Point, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80920