Frequently Asked Questions for Sleep Medicine

  • What’s the difference between snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
  • Snoring occurs when the soft tissues in your throat and upper airway constrict and vibrate. The sound created is termed snoring. When the soft tissues completely close or obstruct, the airway and prevent air from reaching your lungs, it is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

  • Why would I need to consult a medical doctor?
  • There are two reasons. Most importantly, 40% of snorers also have sleep apnea. A sleep study will determine if you have snoring only, or also the serious medical condition of OSA. Secondly, without a medical diagnosis of OSA, insurance will not cover any portion of treatment.

  • What if I don’t consult a medical doctor for a diagnosis?
  • You will not be fully informed of your own health condition, since OSA doesn’t always have noticeable symptoms. You should have all the information available to you so that you can make the best decisions regarding your treatment. And again, without a medical diagnosis, all costs for treatment will be out-of-pocket.

  • What is an Oral Airway Dilator (OAD)?
  • Oral Airway Dilators are FDA approved, custom-made intra-oral appliances used to treat snoring and OSA by positioning your lower jaw for maximum airway during sleep.

  • How do I know if I am a candidate for an Oral Airway Dilator?
  • Only through a professional evaluation. While previous use of a nightguard, sports guard or other removable device can indicate that you can successfully wear the device, an evaluation with the doctor is required to determine whether an OAD can manage your snoring and/or OSA.

  • What does it feel like in your mouth?
  • OADs are comprised of two units that fit over your upper and lower teeth; some are connected to each other and some are not. Most patients adapt quickly to the OAD; it may feel “strange” at first, simply because it’s something new and different. This sensation quickly goes away as the mouth becomes accustomed to the device.

  • Does it hurt to wear the Oral Airway Dilator?
  • While there is sometimes some discomfort during the initial period of wear, it is usually quickly resolved as the device is adjusted and the mouth adapts.

  • How long does it take to get an OAD?
  • After the initial exam and consultation, you will be scheduled for an appointment for impressions and bite registration. Approximately 4 weeks later you will be fitted with the appliance and begin the process of advancing to the prescribed position. After period of time using the OAD at this position, you will return for final testing while wearing the OAD to verify the position. So, there will be 4-6 appointments over 6-8 weeks, depending on your individual needs and scheduling availability.

  • How do I keep my appliance clean and safe?
  • After removing your OAD each morning, brush your OAD with a soft toothbrush without toothpaste and place in a sonic cleaner with an approved cleansing tablet. When finished, dump out the used cleanser, refill the container with clean water and put in the OAD. When traveling, keep the OAD in its protective container.

  • Are there any side effects with the Oral Airway Dilator?
  • There have been few side effects reported. It is common to experience a temporary increase in salivation and perhaps some tenderness in the jaw joint area during the adjustment period. Your treatment will continue after the initial period for annual check-ups, so that any possible side effects can be addressed.

  • Is an Oral Airway Dilator more effective than CPAP?
  • A CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) is an air pump that delivers timed and controlled air pressure through a hose and through your nose via a mask or similar facial device. It is 100% effective for the 60-70% of people who can tolerate it. 30-40% of patients cannot tolerate the CPAP for many valid reasons. In many cases the OAD has been as effective as CPAP without discomfort or inconvenience.

  • Why can’t I just wear one of those nasal strips to cure my snoring?
  • Nasal strips on the market have been shown to improve flow of air just through the nose. Snoring is not always nasal only; sometimes it’s a combination of nasal and oral. Since the only effective way to treat snoring and sleep apnea is to increase the size of air passage beyond the nose, CPAP, surgery and OAD therapy are the more clinically effective methods. It is my strong personal opinion that all reversible methods should be explored before irreversible procedures are considered!

  • Does insurance cover the cost of an OAD?
  • It depends on the diagnosis. We have yet to have either dental or medical cover any snoring appliances. OSA is a medical condition, requires a sleep study and physician’s diagnosis. With an OSA diagnosis, we most often see reimbursement between 60-80% of insurance allowables, depending on specific plan details. Your individual financial and insurance situation will be reviewed with you by one of our insurance billing specialists.

    Dr. Katharine Christian

    Katharine Christian

    Sleep Apnea Seattle Directions