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Are There Side Effects to Oral Appliance Therapy?

Patients who are looking into oral appliance therapy to treat sleep apnea often wonder if there are any side effects to wearing the device at night.

The two main side effects of oral appliance therapy are 1. teeth moving apart, resulting in spaces between the teeth, and 2. the lower jaw moving into a different position, resulting in the teeth not lining up well anymore.

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How to Avoid Oral Appliance Therapy Side Effects

Fortunately, there are several ways you can mitigate the chance of seeing negative side effects from oral appliance therapy. Here are some things you can do:

First, Use Your Morning Aligner:

  1. After removing the treatment appliance in the morning, wait 30-60 minutes to use the morning aligner.
  2. When you are ready, insert the morning aligner onto your lower teeth. Make sure that it seats all the way down.
  3. While looking in a mirror, pull your lower jaw back and gently close to engage your upper front teeth in the indentations on the top of the aligner. 
  4. Once your teeth are in the correct position, squeeze or bite on the aligner, continue until you feel your back teeth touch and hold that position for a minute. (You may find it helpful to relax your jaw muscles and apply gentle backward pressure on your chin with your hand.)
  5. Repeat the process of squeezing the jaw together into the aligner until your usual bite position is achieved. This may take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. If it takes longer than 10 minutes, take a hot shower or place a warm pack on the joints to warm up the jaw joints and accomplish this process faster. 
  6. Remove the aligner from your mouth.

*You should use your morning aligner at least once per week. 

Second, Floss Like a Boss

Every night before bed you should floss your teeth.  The feeling of passing the floss between your teeth should ALWAYS FEEL THE SAME BEFORE BED, or at least it shouldn’t go from “difficult” (as in the spaces between the teeth are tight) to “easy” (as in the spaces are getting bigger).  If you feel that, for a couple of nights in a row, the spaces between your teeth might be changing, GIVE US A CALL.

Third, Check Your Bite Every Night

Every night before bed you should CHECK YOUR BITE.  You’ve probably never given it much thought, but your teeth fit together in a very specific way.  You’ll immediately notice that in the morning after wearing your oral appliance that your bite will feel “weird” or “off.”  This is to be expected, as your lower jaw is held in a different position all night long, and it takes a bit for your jaw position to return to normal.  For most of our patients their jaw position will go back to normal within an hour or two. The morning aligner helps with this. 

*However, every night before bed you should tap your teeth together to make sure that your bite ALWAYS FEELS THE SAME BEFORE BED.  If you feel that your teeth are not coming together the way they used to (usually meaning that your back teeth don’t touch as well), and this occurs for a day or two, GIVE US A CALL.

It’s that simple, use your morning aligner, floss like a boss, and check your bite every night. 

See a video demonstration of this procedure below

*If you ignore these simple steps you could have permanent changes to your teeth or bite that may require correction at additional costs, may result in damage to your teeth, or pain in your teeth or jaws.  Should you have any questions at all, please call Better Sleep MOV today! (740) 205-6103

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