Problems and Side Effects with Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)
As an oral appliance therapy (OAT) provider, you want to assist your patients with sleeping disorders in overcoming sleep apnea without the need for bulky CPAP equipment. But what happens when OAT itself brings about another set of concerns that need to be addressed?
First of all, don’t panic. There are a number of different troubleshooting steps you may need to go through to determine what is causing your patient’s issues. To give them the best answer possible, you’ll need to ask a few questions and maybe even the opinion of a colleague. Online study groups and cohorts of other sleep dentists are great when it comes to identifying the cause of your patient’s ailment.
Here are a few examples:
Bilateral Jaw Pain: It isn’t just the mandibular advancement device that could be at play. Ask your patient if they changed any sleeping habits, such as a new pillow or mattress. It could also very well be that the patient moved their jaw to the side during calibration. Or perhaps you used too large of a fork, causing excessive vertical movement and need to shorten the fork to a smaller size. Leave no stone unturned!
Irregular Staining on the Appliance: Discuss home hygiene and appliance maintenance, but be sure to check that there could possibly be an amalgam filling adjacent to the area, or a pinhole harboring mold growth. Even a tinted mouth rinse could be to blame for the discoloration. We highly recommend patients use SomTabs for cleaning their oral device.
The Patient “Can’t Get Their Jaw to Move Back”: It might be that your patient is not wearing their Morning Repositioner AM aligner as directed, or that you advanced their jaw too quickly.
Other common concerns arise such as when dentists do not use the proper tools to adequately tighten the screws in an oral appliance or the patient complaining of dry mouth. Through patience and experience, it becomes easier to manage these simple problems seen in OAT patients (if not avoid them altogether).
Don’t Give Up
It’s easy to see how your OAT patients could feel frustrated when they don’t experience immediate relief. After all, many of them have already suffered from cumbersome CPAP machine intolerance and months to years of sleepless nights. But encourage them to keep trying! As with a denture, adjusting to any new oral appliance can take some getting used to.
The old saying “practice makes perfect” holds true when it comes to implementing dental sleep medicine into your practice. Even in individuals with sensitive gag reflexes, customized oral appliances and adjustments can make the process both tolerable and convenient.
Stay calm and listen to your patients without allowing yourself to get frustrated. Being that a SomnoDent oral appliance is a medical device, there are some things that may not be within your scope of diagnosis. Fortunately, the benefits of OAT far outweigh the inconveniences.
For more information on patient management and COAT troubleshooting, access exclusive training, and resources, including a Medical Billing Series and the SMART Practice Series, by becoming a SomAdvantage member today. Additionally, for fit, adjustment, orders repairs, or warranty questions you can always contact a SomnoMed representative at 1-888-447-6673.