Oral appliances are a simple, non-invasive approach to address various conditions. Some of these problems may not appear to involve dental care, but studies and research have proved the connections. Dr. Williams may recommend and fit you for a custom-crafted oral appliance if necessary. He uses a variety of innovative designs depending on the treatment goals and your preferences.
What are Oral Appliances?
Oral appliances are devices that a patient wears to address obstructive sleep apnea, prevent nighttime teeth grinding, treat jaw joint disorders like TMJ or other bite problems. These appliances are typically custom-made for your unique oral conformation and may be removed and replaced. They fit like a retainer and stabilize the teeth and bite in the desired position. Considering the conditions they treat, many devices are worn at night while the patient sleeps.
Benefits of Oral Appliances
A popular treatment option used by many of Dr. Williams’ patients, oral appliances have many advantages.
Some of these benefits include:
- Non-invasive. Oral appliances are removable and replaceable devices. Therefore, they typically do not need any type of procedure before the use of the appliance. Occasionally, an appliance may require a small bracket to be placed onto the tooth with adhesive to lock the oral appliance into place, but this process is not painful or invasive.
- Comfortable. Custom-made oral appliances fit like a glove. They are made to accommodate every curve of your unique oral composition, ensuring a perfect fit and comfortable experience.
- Travel-friendly. If you plan to go on an overnight trip, simply bring your oral appliance with you. You shouldn’t require any special equipment when traveling aside from your oral appliance, device carrying case and cleaning solution if needed.
- Often covered by insurance. Many oral appliances are covered by dental insurance. Contact your insurance provider to find out if your plan covers oral appliance therapy.
Non-Invasive Treatment Solutions for a Variety of Conditions
Some of the most common conditions that non-invasive oral appliances can aid in include:
Patients with obstructive sleep apnea, a severe sleep disorder that affects approximately 10% of women and around 25% of men, repeatedly stop and start breathing throughout sleep. This happens because throat tissue can obstruct the airway, halting breathing in the sleeper. This is a dangerous disorder but can be treated with an oral appliance. Oral devices help those with sleep apnea by holding the jaw and tongue in a desired position, preventing airway obstruction.
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is another common sleep disorder. Individuals may grind during sleep as a result of bite or jaw alignment issues or due to stress. Whatever the cause may be, an oral appliance worn at night can help prevent damage to the teeth and jaw from grinding. These appliances typically sit between the back teeth and prevent pressure or movement. Without an appliance, many nighttime teeth grinders suffer headaches, jaw pain, worn molars, and even loose teeth.
How to Know if Your Oral Appliance Fits Properly
The best method for finding a correctly fitted oral appliance is by pursuing a tailor-made device. The process for creating a customized oral appliance is not invasive or painful. However, it may take up to a few weeks to receive your device, but it will fit your mouth perfectly when it arrives.
Dr. Williams will take an impression or mold of your mouth using tacky material or using an oral scanner to create the model. This 3D mold or the images procured from the scan are sent to a specialized dental laboratory where your oral appliance is fabricated. Ascent Family Dental will receive your device as soon as it is completed and call you in for a fitting appointment.
At this appointment, Dr. Williams will have you place the oral appliance in your mouth. He will examine it to ensure your jaws bite down appropriately and confirm that you feel comfortable. It’s important to understand that the oral appliance may be awkward at first—depending on the condition you are receiving it for, it may place your jaws, tongue, or teeth in a position you are not used to. This is to be expected. The placement is intentional as recommended by Dr. Williams and the dental laboratory to resolve your sleep apnea, teeth grinding, or other problems.
If, however, the appliance feels painful—if you experience a sharp, shooting pain while wearing it or discover pressure sores in your mouth from the appliance, please reach out to our team right away. Dr. Williams will evaluate the device and may take new impressions to ensure that you have an appliance that fits properly.
Living with Oral Appliances
Living with an oral appliance should not significantly uproot your daily life. It should, however, make you feel more comfortable.
It’s likely that you will wear your device at night while sleeping. You must make oral appliance placement, removal, and cleaning part of your daily routine. This should not require more than a few minutes each day. Many patients find it helpful to set a nightly reminder to get in the habit of using their device. Before putting it away in the morning, be sure to clean it thoroughly with non-abrasive toothpaste or a special denture solution. This will help avoid deterioration of the device and keep your mouth healthy.
Comfortable Oral Appliance Therapy at Ascent Family Dental
Our team of experienced dental professionals is eager to help you find relief with oral appliances. Whether you need a new customized appliance created or feel as though your current device does not fit you correctly, we are here to help. Contact our dental office to learn more about oral appliances and schedule your appointment with Dr. Williams today.