“For my sleep apnea I was supposed to use a CPAP but I was unable to tolerate it. I had an oral appliance made by Dr Nicholas Calcaterra which I wear every night. I now sleep soundly and in my follow-up sleep study, I am no longer experiencing episodes of apnea.”
– Allan G, patient of Dr. Nicholas Calcaterra, Orange, CT.
About Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which the patient’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts. This results in episodes in which oxygen supply to vital tissue is compromised. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea in which there is anatomical narrowing of portions of the upper airway. If untreated, sleep apnea leads to excessive daytime sleepiness as well as an increased risk of hypertension, stroke, diabetes, cardiac arrhythmias, and other complications.
Sleep apnea is diagnosed using a sleep study, more formally called polysomnography. Once diagnosed, there are various treatments for obstructive sleep apneas:
- CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – this is a device the patient wears at night which maintains positive airway pressure. It is cumbersome, loud, and patients often are unable to tolerate it.
- Soft Tissue Surgery – there are numerous surgical techniques available, most often performed by an ENT (otolaryngologist). The techniques can include tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, surgical removal of nasal obstructions, surgery of the uvula, and other modalities.
- Oral Appliance Therapy – in this option, a dentist fabricates a device to be worn at night. This treatment is typically the least invasive and has much greater compliance than CPAP therapy. Oral appliances are FDA approved for cases of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and in most cases are covered by medical insurance.
Dental Appliances for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea are devices worn by the patient similar to an athletic mouthpiece or ones for grinding. They are custom fit to your mouth. They work primarily by supporting the lower jaw in a slightly more forward position, thereby opening your airway. To test it on yourself, move your lower jaw as far forward as possible. You will be able to feel your airway widening. Other appliance types function by shaping the tongue to promote airflow.
Key benefits of Appliances for sleep apnea include:
- Less invasive than soft tissue surgery.
- Not nearly as bulky or noisy as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices for both the patient as well as the sleeping partner.
- Portable – you can take your appliance with you on business or vacation trips (we know you don’t want to wear it while on vacation, but sleep apnea is a serious disorder!)
- Easily adjustable.
In our experience, assuming there is proper documentation from a recent sleep study, dental appliances for obstructive sleep apnea are typically covered by medical insurance.
Dr. Nicholas Calcaterra has successfully treated dozens of patients with different oral appliances for obstructive sleep apnea. He consults with otolaryngologists and sleep physicians in the greater New Haven area to coordinate care. Many patients, such as Allan G. as quoted above, have been able to get rid of their CPAP and use an oral appliance exclusively. If you are looking for a sleep apnea dentist in CT, call our office for a consultation. (203) 799 – 2929.