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Treat Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliance Therapy in Skokie & Chicago

Skokie Oral Appliance Therapy man stretching in bedThe CPAP machine is often seen as the gold standard of sleep apnea treatment. However, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine actually suggests that oral appliance therapy applied by a specially trained dentist like Dr. David Schwartz should be the first treatment option for those suffering from mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is an effective and easy to use alternative for those patients who can’t sleep with their CPAP, and it helps millions of people rest every night. 

When Should You Consider an Oral Appliance?

Woman putting on CPAP maskOral appliance therapy is a comfortable and easily portable alternative to the CPAP machine, and it is ideal for patients who:

  • Are suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Have had corrective surgery but still have no sleep apnea relief
  • Are CPAP intolerant
  • Are at risk for sleep apnea and want to prevent it
  • Snore loudly and regularly
  • Frequently travel (particularly by plane) and need a more portable treatment option
  • Could benefit from combined therapy (a CPAP machine and an oral appliance used at the same time)

An Alternative for CPAP Intolerant Patients

Man wearing sleep apnea applianceOral appliance therapy borrows a core principle from CPR: in order to create an open airway, the jaw needs to be shifted slightly forward. This is exactly what our oral appliances do. This small change in positioning can prevent the tissues in the mouth and throat from collapsing into the airway and causing sleep apnea. Each of our oral appliances are crafted from durable and flexible materials so they are easy to wear, easy to use, and drastically increase the quality of sleep. They are simple to maintain and travel with, and this is why they tend to have a much higher compliance rate compared to a CPAP machine. For people who still can’t sleep because of their CPAP, oral appliance therapy is often the perfect answer.

What Should I Expect with an Oral Appliance?

Model of mouth with sleep apnea appliance in placeWhile an oral appliance is often more comfortable than a CPAP machine, there is still a bit of an adjustment period when a person starts wearing one. Thankfully, these side effects are very slight and typically only last a week. They include:

  • Tension, clicking, or popping in the jaw as it adjusts to its new position
  • Sore teeth and gums
  • An increase or decrease in the production of saliva
  • Changes in the feeling of the bite

If you have any lingering pain or soreness associated with your oral appliance, please contact us right away so we can adjust it for you.

Recommendations from the AASM and the AADSM

When it comes to both sleep apnea treatment and diagnosis, there are two main organizations that set the standards. They are The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM). They provide guidance to both patients and medical professionals, certify doctors and practices, and offer continuing education courses. Sleep Better Chicagoland works closely with both of these organizations to assure the quality of care that their patients experience. Dr. David Schwartz is actually a Director at Large for the AADSM.  With his skill, training, and continued diligence, he is able to help the people of Skokie, Evanston, Chicago, Wilmette, and Cook County get the rest they need.

According to the AASM and AADSM, patients should seek out oral appliance therapy in the following situations:

  • If they snore consistently and/or loudly. This is often a key indicator of sleep apnea. However, even people who snore and don’t have sleep apnea are at risk of developing similar symptoms over time. In any case, oral appliance therapy can help stop snoring and promote healthy sleep.
  • If a patient has difficulty sleeping with their CPAP machine, travels often, or cannot consistently use it. They should inform their sleep physician of these difficulties, at which point they should be referred to a specially trained sleep dentist.
  • If a patient is wearing a store-bought, generic oral appliance to treat their sleep apnea/snoring. These devices are often made to fit a large amount of people and cannot offer the same benefits of a custom made device designed and placed by a licensed sleep dentist.

Both organizations also recommend that a patient should return for regular follow-up care with their dentist and their sleep physician to check and see if their oral appliance is helping. They will probably need to undergo a sleep study while wearing the appliance as well. These regular visits will also allow the doctors to make any adjustments to treatment as necessary.

When the AASM and AADSM are talking about seeing a skilled, licensed, and trained sleep dentist, they are talking about a doctor like Dr. Schwartz. He and our team at Sleep Better Chicagoland have been helping people sleep with high-quality and custom made oral appliances for years. If you’re curious about if oral appliance therapy could be your sleep solution, please contact our Skokie, IL office today for a free consultation.

Oral Appliance Therapy FAQs


If you’re ready to enjoy an alternative to a CPAP, we know you’re excited to breathe better, but you still have several questions about the treatment. There’s no need to worry. Dr. Schwartz carefully explains what you can expect and addresses your concerns to give you the peace of mind you need to feel confident in your decision. In the meantime, here are the answers to a few of the most common questions we hear about oral appliance therapy.

Are oral appliances uncomfortable?

It’s normal to be concerned about the comfort of an oral appliance, but rest assured, many patients report them to be more tolerable than a CPAP. The device is made from flexible, yet durable material that’s custom fit to your mouth. It’s also lightweight to prevent a bulky feeling. You can even speak and drink water while wearing it. Although it may take a few nights to adjust, in no time at all, you won’t even notice it’s there. There is only a small percentage of people who take more than a couple of weeks to adjust to wearing it.

Does insurance cover oral appliance therapy?

Although it depends on your specific policy, most insurance plans cover oral appliance therapy; however, they often require it to be custom-fabricated. You will also need to have the proper documentation submitted to your insurance carrier. We understand it can be confusing, which is why we work on your behalf with your insurance company to file the necessary claims and paperwork. If there’s any out-of-pocket balance, we’ll discuss your payment options to keep the oral appliance within your budget.

How long does an oral appliance last?

Using an oral appliance for sleep apnea treatment in Skokie can provide you with a long-term solution. On average, an oral appliance lasts for 3 to 5 years before needing to be replaced; however, it’s not uncommon for them to last much longer. In fact, some may last as long as a decade with the right care. Unfortunately, if you suffer from bruxism, the grinding and clenching can cause it to wear out sooner.

Will I still need my CPAP?

An oral appliance has over an 84% success rate when treating non-severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea. It’s effective or helping those who have mild to moderate forms of the sleep disorder when used alone, but depending on the severity of your sleep apnea, you may still need your CPAP. An oral appliance can be used alone or in combination with another treatment. Dr. Schwartz creates the effective plan you need to keep your airways open to breathe easier.

What if I am missing teeth?

If you’ve lost one or more teeth, you may still be a candidate for an oral appliance. Depending on the condition of your mouth, it can still be a suitable treatment option. Dr. Schwartz provides the customized treatment plan you need to enjoy an alternative to a CPAP.

Still have questions?

Dr. Schwartz will address your concerns and help you make the best choice to improve your sleep quality and general health.