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How to Adjust to Wearing an Oral Appliance

December 4, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — drdernick @ 6:48 pm
Woman wearing an oral appliance in The Woodlands

If you’ve recently learned that you have sleep apnea and seen a dentist to get a custom oral appliance in The Woodlands, you’re probably relieved that you can finally start to improve the quality of your sleep. Oral appliances are designed to expand the airway, making it easier to get more oxygen throughout the night and prevent apneas from occurring. However, getting used to sleeping with an oral appliance can take some time, so, you’ll want to take note of some tips from a dentist on how to adjust.

The Most Common Issues with Oral Appliances

Having an oral appliance in your mouth throughout the night can feel foreign at first, but this is a normal part of the adjustment process. The most common issues dentists hear from patients include the following:

  • Mild Discomfort: The plastic materials used in your appliance are durable, but not necessarily the most comfortable at first.
  • Tightness: The appliance may feel tight in the early days of use, but this is actually a good thing considering this means it’s less likely to come out during sleep!
  • Excessive Drool: Since your brain mistakenly thinks you’re putting food in your mouth, drooling is common when using an oral appliance for the first time.
  • Gagging: If you have a strong gag reflex, you may take a bit more time than usual to adjust to your appliance.
  • Unintentional Removal: If you have a history of doing things in your sleep, you may end up removing your appliance without even realizing it.

Getting Used to Your New Appliance

Thankfully, adjusting to an oral appliance becomes easier over time. By staying dedicated to wearing your appliance every night, your mouth will adjust to this new object over the next two to three weeks. This means you’ll experience less discomfort and saliva production. Unintentional removal of your appliance should also cease. The most important thing you can do is to remember to wear your appliance every single night and don’t skip your routine.

If the biggest concern is a sensitive gag reflex, consider wearing your appliance throughout the day for short periods of time, such as an hour. Focus on breathing through your nose and allow your body to relax. That way, your body will be ready to wear your appliance for an extended period of time when you go to bed.

When You Should Call the Dentist

If it’s been three weeks since you’ve been using your appliance and you still don’t feel comfortable, call the dentist you received it from. It’s possible that adjustments need to be made to the appliance itself or a different one may be necessary. Don’t be afraid to reach out for guidance from a professional as the early adjustment period of using an appliance is much easier to manage than the symptoms of untreated sleep apnea!

About the Author

Dr. Robert Dernick is highly experienced in sleep dentistry and the study of sleep disordered breathing problems. His safe, effective, and non-invasive sleep apnea therapy includes the use of custom-made oral appliances to ensure his patients achieve a better night’s sleep. To schedule a consultation with his office, you can contact him through his website.

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