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FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What can a comfortable Medically Prescribed Dental Appliance do for you?

• Ensure that you spend the night in the same room as your bed partner both of you getting
 a better nights sleep

• Help prevent heart disease, sudden death, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression,
memory loss, low sex drive and even erectile dysfunction.

• Help prevent driving and work-related accidents caused by drowsiness and excessive daytime sleepiness.

• Provide an alternative for the 40 – 60% of people with sleep apnea who cannot tolerate or 
would rather not use a C-PAP Machine.

What are the consequences if I choose not to treat my Sleep Apnea?

Potential consequences of sleep disordered breathing can be divided into four categories:

• Relational

• Functional/ Behavioral

• Medical

• Cardiovascular

Relational consequences may include irritability, personality changes, decreased sex drive, loss of intimacy, and clashes with your bed partner (spousal arousal syndrome).
Functional and behavioral outcomes can be excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, poor memory or clouded intellect, performance decrement, depression, increased appetite, inability to exercise, weight gain and becoming more prone to accidents.

Medically, not pursuing treatment may lead to morning headaches, impotence, gastro esophageal reflux (GERD), nocturnal bruxism, and mortality. Cardiovascular effects may include high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia’s, heart attack, stroke, increased cholesterol, and atherosclerosis.

What are the potential side effects of using oral appliance therapy?

Most potential side effects of oral appliance therapy are minor and easily managed. As a long term wearer of an oral appliance to manage my own sleep apnea, I know very well how to prevent and minimize these problems. I will be there to walk with you step by step through the entire process of adjustment and accommodation to your new oral appliance.

Potential side effects of using an oral appliance include:

• Excess saliva

• Unconsciously taking the appliance out at night

• Tooth or gum discomfort

• Dislodgement of dental restorations

• Minor tooth movement (open contacts between teeth)

• Muscle or joint discomfort (Rare)

• Temporary or permanent bite changes

Why worry about snoring?

A normal sleep habit? No. Since it’s so common, most people assume it is only a nuisance to the bed partner and harmless to the snorer. That’s wrong on both counts. Besides being disruptive to relationships, snoring is a sleep-breathing disorder and can lead to serious health problems.

Are there long term consequences of snoring?

Yes. Snoring usually gets worse with time. Chronic snorers tend to develop high blood pressure, and are more apt to have heart and lung problems than non-snorers. Loud snoring may be a sign of a more serious sleep breathing disorder known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSA). This condition can be life threatening.

What if I have OSA?

If Dr. Gillum suspects that you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, he will refer you to a physician for a more definitive diagnosis using an overnight or home sleep test. The physician will manage and check to see if you have related medical problems.

How does an Oral Appliance (OA) prevent snoring and OSA?

An oral appliance holds the lower jaw forward and open which increases the volume of the airway and keeps the tongue away from the posterior airway. The Oral Appliance helps maintain the normal tension in the tongue and, therefore, more resistant to collapsing the airway. When the airway narrows, the air travels faster and results in vibrations in the throat that we know as snoring. When the tongue is sucked all the way back, the airflow stops and the result is an apnea. (Apnea means “no breath.”)

How successful is an Oral Appliance?

Tests done in sleep disorder centers on patients with OSA and severe snoring show an average of 85% reduction in breath stoppages and snoring when wearing an Oral Appliance. All patients tested reported they feel more alert and energetic the day after wearing the Oral Appliance. Success is very predictable in most situations of mild to moderate sleep apnea. We look at every patient individually and can predict with a high degree of success which patients will be successful with our treatment.

I have sleep apnea but cannot breathe through my nose. What can I do?

An absolute requirement of any treatment for obstructive Sleep apnea is your ability to breathe adequately through your nose be it C-PAP or an oral appliance. Part of our exam and screening process involves a complete evaluation of your nasal function. Problems, in this area, are referred to an ENT specialist for correction before we proceed with treatment. Correcting nasal problems can significantly reduce snoring.