A while back, I began to experience difficulty sleeping through the night. I was snoring, waking up a lot, tired during the day and having little energy to do the things I liked to do.
I went to my doctor and he recommended a sleep test to help find out what was going on with me. I had the sleep study done, and the results were read by a sleep physician who diagnosed me with sleep apnea. He recommended CPAP therapy. Another sleep test was necessary to see if CPAP could help me. It was horrific! Halfway through the night, they gave up because I just could not get used to any of the CPAP masks, tubing or the noise from the air pump. They tried several masks and tubing combinations but I could not tolerate the restraining, claustrophobic feeling that the CPAP created. After that, I knew CPAP was not going to for work me!
In my search for help with my sleep apnea, I visited an ENT physician who then suggested surgery on the back of my throat. He said by cutting off part of my soft palate, that I would breathe better. It did not sound like something I wanted to try.
No CPAP! No surgery for me either! What was I to do?
Right after these events, I visited my dentist for my regular cleaning and check-up. Dr. John Blattner has been my dentist for the past 25 years. I mentioned my dilemma to Dr. Blattner during his review of my medical history. He asked a lot of questions and listened to my sleep issues and concerns. He explained a lot about snoring and sleep apnea that I hadn’t heard before this appointment. I became aware of how my snoring and apnea occurs due to my tongue blocking the back of my throat causing me to stop breathing at night. I learned that perhaps even the choices to remove eight teeth and close the remaining spaces with braces when I was a child, now limited my tongue’s forward position and may contribute to my sleep problems.
Dr. Blattner explained to me that an oral appliance could help me sleep better and perhaps solve my snoring and apnea issues. An oral appliance is an upper and lower “retainer” that connects together to help your jaw move slightly forward during sleep. Your tongue is more forward and does not block your airway. This sounded way better than CPAP or surgery, and I was on board because it made more sense to me. I also wore retainers when I was a teenager so I knew what to expect.
The day I got my oral appliance, it took a few adjustments to get it “just right” and fit well. I wore it for about a half hour in the office while I listened to Dr. Blattner explain how to clean and care for my new oral appliance. In that short period of time, I could tell that this oral appliance was fitting comfortably and was a lot less hassle than a CPAP. I even told Dr. Blattner that I felt like this would work!
The first night was a little weird, but I wore it all night and every night since. I am more rested, more energetic and my sleep is less disrupted. I am now getting a good night’s sleep – thanks to Dr. Blattner and my oral appliance!
Pam D. October 17, 2016