Frequently Asked Questions About Treatment

Do oral appliances treat sleep apnea as well as CPAP?

Research tells us quite a bit about treating serious disorders like sleep apnea. For example, a study from the Journal of Otolaryngology shows that adherence to CPAP machines is at a 20 year low.  On the other hand, treatment with an oral appliance has been shown to be a successful alternative for people who can’t handle wearing a CPAP machine any longer.

How do oral appliances work?

Each appliance will be custom-made for your smile. When worn at night, the device will support your teeth and gently move the jaw and soft tissues forward. By moving the jaw and nearby tissues, this changes the position of the tongue as well, helping to increase airway size and prevent obstruction as you sleep.

Are there different appliance options?

To ensure optimal treatment for patients, we have a number of different device styles, and we can customize the fit for your specific smile. The variety enables us to treat a wide array of cases with comfort and convenience.

What should I expect from the treatment process?

We follow strict protocols and guidelines to ensure quality care for each of our patients. The process starts with a consultation and exam, so we can diagnose the presence of airway obstruction. We then take detailed digital scans to select the right appliance and customize it for your smile. Once you begin wearing the device as prescribed, we will schedule follow-up visits to ensure optimal results for our patients.

Will your practice communicate with me if I refer a patient?

If you are a physician or specialist and you refer someone to our practice for care, we will keep you up-to-date on the entire process. We start with a communication once a visit is scheduled, and then a letter after each visit to discuss progress. We will also alert you if the patient is not a viable candidate for oral appliance therapy. Communication also works both ways, so we urge you to stay in contact and make sure our care meets your expectations.

Will a “boil-and-bite” appliance work just as well?

Simply put, no. A boil-and-bite appliance will not shift your jaw to ensure open airways and address the underlying causes of sleep apnea and chronic snoring. You also will not benefit from follow-up visits to make sure sleep apnea is being treated properly and that you’re experiencing the results you should expect. We also customize our appliances to prevent unexpected consequences, such as damage to crowns, changes to bite balance, or even the onset of bruxism (teeth grinding) or TMJ disorder.

Is anyone a candidate for oral appliance therapy?

While we’ve found oral appliances to be a great choice for a number of our patients, there are a few factors that need to be taken into consideration. Good candidates for treatment need to have a least three teeth on each side of the bottom arch that are stable enough to support the appliance. Having a strong gag reflex or the inability to open the mouth wide enough to wear the device could also hinder treatment. We will let you know following a thorough exam whether this is the best course of treatment for you.

Could the oral appliance alter my bite?

Yes, there is the potential for the device to alter your bite. However, we always take detailed photos and impressions of your smile to ensure that the appliance doesn’t change your bite in a negative fashion, one that could cause discomfort or lead to oral health complications.

What if I damage a device?

Teeth grinding and other issues could potentially mean damage to your new device. Fortunately, each one has a three year warranty to cover the cost of replacement!

Ready to Try Oral Appliance Therapy?

We’re here to help you sleep with ease again.  To schedule a consultation with us, call Sue Ellen Richardson, DDS, in Houston, TX, today at 713-796-9600. We also serve patients who live in Bellaire, River Oaks, Southside Place, and all surrounding communities.