If you’ve recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you’ve probably received some nifty new mouth gear as part of your treatment! But even though this solution is incredibly helpful for patients who struggle to get a good night’s rest, you might be having some difficulties with the adjustment process. There’s nothing to worry about, though—it can take time for your body to get used to a new oral appliance. But once it does, you’ll immediately notice a difference in the quality of your sleep. Here’s what you need to know about oral appliances so you can better adjust to yours.
Common Issues from Oral Appliances
Your oral appliance might feel strange at first, and your body will react differently to the new object inside your mouth. New patients commonly experience things like:
- Drooling – Your mouth can mistake the appliance for food and produce more saliva than usual as a result.
- Gagging – Some patients with stronger gag reflexes experience difficulties when placing their appliance.
- Discomfort and tightness – The appliance might feel unnatural and tight at first, but this tightness also helps to keep it secure in place.
- Nighttime removals – Sometimes your body can unconsciously remove or eject your appliance at night without you even realizing it!
How Can I Get Used to My Appliance?
The secret to overcoming all the issues associated with a new oral appliance is to give things a little time. If you continue to wear your appliance every night, your brain will gradually adjust to the new sensations and begin to block out feelings of discomfort. It truly is mind over matter; your saliva production will stop increasing, and the nighttime removals should halt.
This adjustment period typically takes 2 to 3 weeks, but it depends on the patient. Sometimes your gag reflex can be difficult to overcome, but letting your body relax and breathing through your nose can assist with this. You can also practice wearing the appliance for shorter periods during the day.
What If I’m Unable to Adjust?
If it’s been three weeks and you’re still not able to adjust to your new oral appliance, there might be a problem with its design. Your dentist can make the necessary adjustments or give you an entirely new appliance. However, it’s important to remember that consistency is a major part of the adjustment process. Constant disruptions or failure to wear your appliance every night will slow down your progress, even if the device is designed perfectly.
Your oral appliance is there to help you, but it’s still going to take a little getting used to. Knowing what to expect throughout the process and monitoring your own discomfort can ensure that you’re able to adjust to it and enjoy the benefits of a good night’s sleep once more.
About the Author
Dr. Keane Fedosky received his dental doctorate from the Baylor College of Dentistry and has been practicing in the area for over 20 years! Dr. Fedosky is a member of the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association, and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. His practice is proud to offer a wide range of services including sleep apnea therapy and TMJ treatment. If you have any questions for Dr. Fedosky or would like to schedule an appointment, feel free to reach out online or by phone: (972) 753-3737.