Patient Replaces C-PAP Machine With An Oral Sleep Appliance And Sees Dramatic Improvement

“He couldn’t believe how this simple oral appliance could have such a profound effect on his life.” – Dr. Jordan Brenner

I had a middle-aged male patient come in for what he expected to be a routine dental appointment. But like all new patients who come to our office, he also got screened for sleep / breathing disorders. That screening process starts with a simple questionnaire. And based on his answers, I could see right away that he had the signs and symptoms of a possible sleep disorder.

He has sleep apnea, but doesn’t want to use a CPAP machine

I asked him, “Have you ever had a sleep study? Have you ever been diagnosed with sleep apnea?”. His response was, “Yes, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea a few years ago, but I don’t remember what my sleep study numbers were, but I can tell you this. I am not wearing that CPAP machine ever again!”

Our questionnaire opened up the conversation. He knew he had a problem. He knew he needed to be treated. But felt that the CPAP machine had taken him down the wrong road. A road he just couldn’t travel down.

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It's important to have signs and symptoms of a potential sleep breathing disorder evaluated by a knowledgeable healthcare professional.

Dentist offers him another option—an oral sleep appliance

But to his surprise, I was able to show him another road. One he was never made aware of. And that road would bring us to a very simple solution—an oral sleep appliance. With this new information, he eagerly agreed to take the road with us. The first stop was to get access to his old sleep study results.

Home sleep studies make the process very easy for the patient

His previous study was a few years old, so we ended up needing an updated one. When the patient heard this, he suddenly became a little concerned. “When I did the last sleep study I had to go to a sleep center lab and stay overnight. I was hooked up to all kinds of things. It was very uncomfortable and I barely slept. I’m not sure I want to go through that again.” He was happy to hear that he wouldn’t have to.

In our office, we use home sleep studies that are much easier for the patient to deal with1. With home sleep studies, you get to sleep in your own bed. You have a minimal number of things attached to you. And you don’t have to spend a night away from your family. They are easy to use and are very comfortable.

His sleep disorder diagnosis is confirmed

He completed the home sleep study. We downloaded the data. And the information was then interpreted by a licensed sleep physician. The conclusion? He was diagnosed with moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

Why do patients prefer an oral appliance over a CPAP machine?

When patients are told they have sleep apnea, they often picture themselves wearing an uncomfortable and cumbersome mask on their face. And they are partially right.

Even though the newer CPAP machines are nicer (quieter and more compact), you are still tethered to something sitting on your nightstand that limits the positions you can sleep in. What I find with my patients is that most don’t like the CPAP machine and don’t want to use it.

This patient had been using his CPAP machine for a little while, but then began feeling claustrophobic. He couldn’t take the feeling anymore and stopped using it. Imagine having claustrophobia and then having somebody putting something on your face and holding it there all night long. That’s gonna cause some anxiety and maybe induce a little panic.

Get Evaluated

It's important to have signs and symptoms of a potential sleep breathing disorder evaluated by a knowledgeable healthcare professional.

Too many patients are unaware of the oral sleep appliance option

Unfortunately, his physician never presented any other options. It was basically, “You need this CPAP machine. Put this on. There you go”.

For a lot of patients, the CPAP does not work. We know the real world numbers. After about five years, half of the patients have stopped using their CPAP machines. This rate is easy to track because CPAP machines have compliance monitors built into them. For many patients (possible most), an oral appliance is the best option.

Advantages of an oral appliance:

  • Comfortable
  • Easy to wear
  • Quiet
  • Portable
  • Convenient for travel
  • Easy to care for


Medical insurance helps cover the cost

Many patients are surprised when they discover that their medical insurance will partially cover the cost of oral sleep appliances. How much it covers will of course depend on the individual’s specific medical insurance policy. Our office processes pre-authorizations and submits claims on our patients’ behalf.

Medical insurance will help pay for CPAP machines too, but here’s the risk. If the patient stops wearing it, the patient ends up paying for it. Remember, compliance is being tracked!


Too many people minimize and dismiss mild sleep apnea

Many people diagnosed with mild sleep apnea are told they don’t qualify for a CPAP machine (by their insurance) and because of this, they end up doing nothing about it. They don’t treat it and try to ignore it. That’s a medically dangerous road to take.

That’s like telling a mild diabetic, “We’re not going to treat you now. We’ll wait until it gets worse.” That’s not how we treat diabetes. In the early stages, whether it’s pre-diabetes or a mild case of diabetes, we come up with a plan. That plan may include a medication, a diet change, and / or an exercise plan. But we always take some kind of action. We don’t ignore it.

That’s the same way I look at patients who are given a mild sleep apnea diagnosis. We don’t ignore it. We come up with a plan. And a simple oral sleep appliance is a great option for most of these cases.


Oral sleep appliances have multiple functions

Our patient really liked the oral sleep appliance option for the reasons already mentioned, but there were others. With sleep apnea patients, we often see other problems connected to this disorder. For example, we see wear on teeth from clenching and grinding5. And we see joint pain and muscle soreness around the jaw. He was experiencing all these problems.

The beauty of these oral sleep appliances is that they can perform more than one function at the same time. The appliance opened up his airway. It put his muscles in a relaxed position. It took pressure off his jaw joint. It reduced the amount of clenching and grinding. And it protected his teeth from whatever clenching and grinding remained.

Our patient is flourishing

He is no longer waking up with sore jaw muscles or joint pain. He is waking up fully rested. This is a feeling he hasn’t felt in many years. He couldn’t believe how this simple oral appliance could have such a profound effect on his life.

He’s been using his oral appliance for a little over a year now and the long term results are in. He completed a follow-up home sleep study and his numbers now put him “below diagnostic sleep apnea”. In other words, he was now in the normal range!

Have you given on your CPAP? Do you need a better solution? Come see us.

The best way to get started with us is to request a virtual exam. All you have to do is go to the website and submit your information and any questions you may have. We’ll contact you and set up a time to discuss what’s going on and how best we can help you.

Get Evaluated

It's important to have signs and symptoms of a potential sleep breathing disorder evaluated by a knowledgeable healthcare professional.

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