What is the difference between sleep apnea and snoring?
Snoring is noisy breathing during sleep. It may or may not indicate sleep apnea. Sleep apnea involves pauses in breathing during sleep and potentially has serious medical consequences, including elevated blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, elevated blood sugar (diabetes), gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), anxiety, irritability, and depression.
Will I need to have a sleep study?
Sleep studies are important to determine whether apnea is present, or how severe the snoring or sleep apnea is. Most insurance companies require an overnight sleep study before they will provide benefits for treatment of sleep breathing problems.
Is the appliance hard to get used to?
Generally, no. For many people, the first night with a snoring and sleep apnea appliance is the best night’s sleep they have had in a long time. Appliances for TMJ disorders sometimes take longer to get used to, but they are certainly not painful.
Are there any risks to oral appliance therapy?
Almost none. Some people experience changes to their bite for a short time each morning after taking out their sleep appliance. Be sure to report any persistent bite changes to us as soon as you notice them.
I have an upper denture. Can I still have an oral sleep appliance?
Yes, certain types of sleep appliances are available to treat people who are missing all of their upper teeth, or even all their teeth.
How effective is oral appliance therapy for snoring and sleep apnea?
We never know how successful it is likely to be for your specific case until we do an examination. Then, we can give you a general idea of your prognosis. We always recommend a follow-up sleep study to determine exactly how effective your snoring/sleep apnea treatment is, and to determine if your appliance needs further adjustments.
Does that mean I have to go back to a sleep center for an overnight polysomnogram?
Not necessarily. Home sleep testing is an option, and we can help you with this.
My TMJ clicking stopped. Does that mean I'm better?
Generally, no. TMJ discs click as they go in and out of place. If they stop going back into place, they often stop clicking. Jaw movement may be restricted to some extent when this happens, but pain levels may actually diminish for a short time. Ignoring this condition increases the risk of arthritic changes inside the joints.
How long do I have to wear an introral appliance to treat my TMJ problems?
That is not entirely possible to predict. Many people wear an appliance for at least a few days or weeks on a full-time basis and then are able to taper down to nighttime wear only. Continuing nighttime wear can help prevent the original disorder from coming back.
Do I need braces to treat my TMD?
Some people need, or choose to have, orthodontic treatment done to align their bite when their TMJ treatment is complete. This is only necessary for a small minority of the people we treat, but it may be an option.
Can I have a TMJ joint replacement?
Replacement TMJ joints are available, but provide extremely limited jaw function. They are only used in cases of severe loss of natural jaw structure.
Can't I just wait until I need surgery?
Surgery is a last resort for the treatment of TMD. TMJ surgery is not predictable and many people get worse instead of better following such procedures.
A wire or bracket is poking me.
If one side of the wire is poking you, try to slide the wire in the other direction to center it in your braces. If that doesn’t work, roll a little orthodontic wax into a pea-sized ball and press it over the sharp end. Then call our office to have the wire trimmed or adjusted.
A wire is broken.
If the end of a broken wire is poking you, use the eraser end of a pencil to push the sharp wire toward your teeth. If part of the wire is loose, carefully remove the loose piece and place it in a small Ziploc bag. Bring it to your next appointment.
A bracket/band is loose or broken.
If the loose bracket or band is still attached to the wire, call our office for an appointment to have it bonded back onto your tooth. If the bracket or band has come off the wire, place it in a Ziploc bag and bring it to the office.
One of the colored O-rings is missing.
As long as the other rings are still present, there should be no immediate problem. Contact the office to schedule an appointment to have the O-ring replaced.
My headgear doesn't fit right.
If your headgear does not fit, do not wear it until your next appointment.
I've suffered an injury that caused one or more teeth to feel loose.
Call your physician or your family dentist immediately. If neither can see you right away, go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic as soon as possible.
My retainer is broken.
Do not wear the retainer if it does not fit well. Schedule an appointment with our office to have the retainer repaired or a new one made. Call as soon as possible, as we do not want your teeth to shift.
I am getting small cuts inside my mouth.
To help a cut heal, apply ice to the outside of your mouth in the area of the cut. You may also apply baking soda directly to the cut with a wet finger, for its antibiotic effect. Call our office during regular business hours for an appointment to have us check for orthodontic problems.
My teeth are painful or sore.
It’s normal for the teeth to be sore for three to seven days after braces are placed. The cheeks and tongue may also be irritated by the braces at first. Stick to a fairly soft diet, apply wax to any areas that seem to be poking you, and call our office if soreness persists more than a week.
I think I might be having an allergic reaction to my retainer.
Allergy to a retainer is a very rare condition. If you have irritation anywhere in your mouth besides the area directly in contact with the retainer, this is unlikely to be an allergy. However, if you have redness or swelling directly under the retainer, leave your retainer out and call our office for advice.
My lips have been dry or cracked, especially in the morning, since I got my braces or retainer.
This is generally a result of the lips drying out or the corners of the mouth staying wet while wearing your braces or retainer. Use lip balm at bedtime to prevent dry lips. For cracking at the corners of the mouth, puncture a Vitamin E capsule and rub the liquid into the cracks each morning.
My tongue has been very sore since I got my braces or retainer.
Sore spots on the tongue often result from playing with the orthodontic appliance with your tongue. Try to keep your tongue away from the appliances. Any time you find your tongue running over your orthodontic appliances, do an exaggerated gulp-type swallow to get your tongue back on the roof of your mouth. If any part of your appliance is actually poking your tongue, put some wax on it and call us.
A wire came out of the tube on one of my molars.
Try using your fingers or a pair of tweezers to put the wire back into the tube. If you cannot do this, cover the end of the wire with a small piece of wax or sugarless gum and call our office.
I lost a rubber spacer or separator.
If a rubber spacer falls out, take two pieces of dental floss and insert them through the spacer. Pull on both pieces of floss to stretch the spacer, then slide the spacer back and forth between the two teeth to put it back in its original position. Once the bottom half of the spacer slips under the tight spot between the teeth, release and remove the floss. The spacer will fit back properly. If you cannot place the spacers in their original positions, please call the office to have them replaced. You can help keep the spacers in place by avoiding sticky foods. Do not floss between teeth with spacers.
I swallowed a piece of my appliance.
One of the risks associated with orthodontic treatment is accidental swallowing of small orthodontic appliances. If you swallow a bracket, band, or rubber band, it will most likely pass through your system with no harm. However, if you swallow a part of your braces and start choking or have difficulty breathing, please call 911 and seek immediate medical help. It may be necessary to use X-rays to determine the location of swallowed braces or wires. Additional medical intervention may be necessary.
My gums are swollen and bleeding.
Gum irritation, inflammation, or bleeding is usually a result of plaque or food debris caught between the teeth or under the gums. Thorough brushing mornings, evenings, and after every meal is essential to keep your gums healthy while your braces are on. Be sure to keep up your schedule of regular dental check-ups, cleanings, and fluoride treatments while you are in braces.
My teeth seem to be moving the wrong way.
Undesired tooth movement can occur if any part of your braces is broken or damaged, if wires become bent or misplaced, or if you missed your last scheduled follow-up orthodontic appointment. If this is the case, call our office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
My jaw has been clicking and painful.
Clicking jaw joints, technically called “temporomandibular disorders” or TMD, can occur with or without orthodontic treatment. Clenching or grinding your teeth can aggravate these problems. If you have unusual jaw joint noises, pain in front of your ears, difficulty opening your mouth smoothly or fully, ear problems, or headaches, call our office immediately.