If I snore, do I have sleep apnea?
Snoring frequently accompanies sleep apnea, but it is not always an indicator of whether this sleep disorder is present. However, snoring can indicate that bulky throat tissue could potentially obstruct airways, especially if patients have many lifestyle factors that contribute to sleep apnea. Fortunately, the CPAP alternative treatment we offer for sleep apnea and snoring is the same.
By prescribing a customized oral appliance, the diameter of the airway can be widened to prevent the sounds of snoring as well as episodes of apnea. They work by positioning the lower jaw slightly forward so that the airway is no longer obstructed and are a great alternative to CPAP machines.
Is it possible that I have sleep apnea even if I don't snore?
Anyone of any age can have sleep apnea. Even though snoring can accompany sleep apnea, it is not always a symptom of this sleep disorder. For this reason, it is important to have a sleep study conducted to determine if apnea is occurring. If we find that sleep apnea is present or determine if snoring is impacting a patient’s quality of life, we will provide treatment recommendations.
What causes sleep apnea?
The exact cause of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is different for each person. Anyone can develop it, regardless of age or gender. The most common risk factors include:
Being over age 40
Having a large neck (over 17 inches in men, 16 inches for women)
Being overweight — approximately half of OSA sufferers are overweight
Being male — more men than women suffer from OSA
Having a large tongue or small jaw
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
Using alcohol or sedatives that relax the muscles in the airway
Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum or sinus and allergy problems
What is the difference between a CPAP and an oral appliance?
While CPAP is very effective in treating sleep apnea, many people cannot tolerate the discomfort of the mask and the inconvenience of the noise the machine makes can be disruptive to both the patient and any partners or spouses that share a bedroom. Therefore, a high percentage of users have difficulty or will not wear these machines, rendering treatment ineffective.
An oral appliance is a popular alternative to the CPAP. This device is small, portable, fits more comfortably in the mouth, and can provide similar treatment benefits to ensure effective, consistent treatment.
How do you confirm the effectiveness of the oral appliance?
We assess the effectiveness of the oral appliance through follow up home sleep testing and make any necessary adjustments to the appliance until we reach the optimal outcome for each individual patient.
Does insurance cover oral appliance therapy?
Because insurance plans vary widely, our experienced team will work with you to see if your insurance company will cover the cost of obtaining an oral appliance. If for any reason it isn’t covered, we will let you know and work with you to develop a financial plan, if needed.
If coverage is available for oral appliances, it will come from your medical insurance carrier. Our patients tell us it is well worth the investment of their time and money to treat their sleep apnea because of the improved quality of life they experience, so don’t let a lack of insurance prevent you from looking into treatment!
What if I don’t have insurance?
We offer financing options and will work with you to find a solution that best fits your needs so you can get the sleep apnea treatment without CPAP that you deserve.
How long will it take to adapt to the oral appliance? Will it hurt my teeth?
The majority of patients will adapt to the appliance within 7-14 days. It will take a few days to get used to having a device in your mouth while you sleep, but the appliance will not hurt your teeth.
How often will the appliance need to be replaced?
Oral appliances are made of a specialized plastic which is very durable. At our practice, they are guaranteed for three to five years before replacement may be necessary. If you maintain your appliance well, you may be able to use it for longer.
Will the appliance change my bite?
A change in your bite is possible when using oral appliance therapy to treat sleep apnea. However, with new appliances and the use of a morning repositioning device, we see very little to no changes in your bite over time and can work with you to address any concerns you may have about your bite during treatment.
Are there any side effects of the appliance?
The most common side effect is morning muscle soreness, which usually goes away after a short time. Some patients may experience either dry mouth or excessive salivation, and as mentioned above, minor tooth movement occurs in some patients.
How long will I have to use the oral appliance?
Obstructive sleep apnea is unlikely to decrease with age; therefore your oral appliance will probably be a lifelong therapy. However, certain wellness factors such as significant weight loss may improve your symptoms, and our team will work with you to determine the best options for you.
Can’t I just order a boil-and-bite device off the internet?
While there are over-the-counter appliances you can order, keep in mind these are not FDA-approved for treating sleep apnea. Additionally, these devices, when not fitted properly, may cause unwanted side effects such as jaw problems, excessive tooth movement, or pain and can often make your sleep apnea worse. For a safe CPAP alternative that works, turn to Sleep Center of Littleton for help.
What Our Patients Are Saying
Exceptional with the attention.
"Dr. Froning and the rest of the Sleep Center of Littleton team were exceptional with the attention and information I received during all of the appointments. I have experienced great benefits with the device and am getting better quality of sleep and decreased episodes of waking up at night."
- Gabriela Guzman
Ten out of ten stars!
"The people (Dr Froning, Alicia, Sarah, Lamar) are all outstanding! It is always a pleasure to see them or talk on the phone. I will HIGHLY recommend The Sleep Center to anyone thinking of going there. Ten out of ten stars!"
- Barb Loux
The team here was amazing.
"The team here was amazing, I’m so glad I got this device, Lamar was so helpful with everything and explained everything very well,I would definitely recommend them, this device saved my life."
- Jose Luna