Sleep Apnea Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

When Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), or simply Sleep Apnea is left untreated it can have serious and life-threatening consequences while also impairing one’s ability to perform everyday tasks; resulting in physical, emotional and professional strains. Below you’ll find answers to some the most frequently asked questions regarding sleep health.

Does medical insurance cover oral appliance therapy for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea?

Since obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition, oral appliance therapy is covered by your medical insurance and not by your dental insurance. Coverage will depend on your specific medical insurance provider and plan.

Are there different types of oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea?

More than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance for the treatment of sleep apnea. The right one for you would be determined by a thorough exam and consultation with a Qualified Dentist who practices dental sleep medicine. Dr. Dexter is the only Qualified Dentist on the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) ‘Find a Dentist’ list in Eugene.

Should I be concerned if my partner snores?

In short, yes. Snoring is a common sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Since sleep apnea is a serious medical condition with serious health consequences, it is advisable that your partner visits a doctor who is a sleep specialist. A sleep study will help to determine the seriousness and further health implications of their snoring.

Can a dentist perform or prescribe a sleep study for obstructive sleep apnea?

In the state of Oregon a dentist cannot perform or prescribe a sleep study to diagnose sleep apnea because it is classified as a medical condition. A dentist may, however, provide screening exams for sleep apnea. To have a sleep study prescribed, a patient must first consult with a physician.

Can untreated sleep apnea contribute to weight gain and obesity?

Untreated sleep apnea can disrupt gherlin and leptin, two important hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. This can seriously affect the ability to control eating and contribute to weight gain and obesity. Treating your sleep apnea can help improve your diet and weight control.

How long should I expect my oral appliance to last?

Since an oral appliance is custom fit to your teeth, any significant changes can cause issues with the fit and effectiveness of an oral appliance for the treatment of sleep apnea.

What are the treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea?

Treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea include CPAP, surgery to open the airway, and oral appliance therapy (OAT). OAT is a more comfortable alternative that does not require surgery or cumbersome hardware.

Can I get a custom-fit oral appliance just for snoring?

Snoring is a common symptom associated with sleep apnea that can cause disrupted sleep for both you and your sleeping partner. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome, oral appliance therapy is a noninvasive and effective treatment for a healthier night’s sleep.

Can all forms of sleep apnea be treated with an oral appliance?

No, not all forms of sleep apnea can be treated with an oral appliance. Mild to moderate and, in some cases, severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be treated with an oral appliance. Central and Mixed Sleep Apnea cannot be treated with an oral appliance​.

Do only overweight, middle-aged men get sleep apnea?

Generally both men and women are at risk for sleep apnea if they are overweight and over the age of 50. However, people of any age, gender or body type can be diagnosed with sleep apnea. Having a sleep study performed will help determine if you have sleep apnea.

How can I tell if my oral appliance therapy treatment is working for my sleep apnea?

Patients will usually notice a significant reduction or elimination of their snoring and feel more rested in the morning. Over time patients are referred back to their attending sleep doctor to confirm that the oral appliance therapy is working.

If I lose weight will it help with my sleep apnea?

Losing weight certainly won’t hurt but weight loss alone will not resolve obstructive sleep apnea. There are a number of health benefits associated with weight loss

Can children and adolescents have sleep apnea?

Yes, children and adolescents can suffer from sleep apnea; with a prevalence of 4%.

If I have TMJ problems, can I still be treated with an oral appliance for my sleep apnea?

TMJ problems do not automatically rule out oral appliance therapy (OAT) for the treatment of sleep apnea. Having an exam by a Qualified Dentist and sleep test conducted by a Sleep Doctor would provide the best determination if OAT is a suitable treatment option if you have Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD).
Donald R. Dexter, Jr., DMD