If you’re considering using an in-home oral appliance to manage your sleep apnea, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks and pitfalls associated with this approach. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) has raised serious concerns about the safety and effectiveness of these do-it-yourself solutions, and we’re here to share their warnings with you.

The AADSM, a respected authority on dental sleep medicine, firmly advocates that trained dentists are the only professionals equipped to offer secure and efficient oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea. Unfortunately, recent developments have brought two concerning business models to light, both of which sidestep the involvement of qualified dentists.

In the first model, medical assistants and physician assistants, often overseen by an otolaryngologist, are involved in the process. This can entail taking dental impressions, crafting a custom oral appliance, and handing it off to the patient. The second model involves durable medical equipment suppliers who allow patients to purchase oral appliances directly through online stores. This might involve using a DIY impression kit at home or attempting to mold the trays to teeth using provided instructions.

It’s imperative to understand the risks associated with these approaches:

Inadequate Appliance Selection

The choice of an appropriate oral appliance hinges on a thorough evaluation of your dental and oral health. Specially trained dentists possess the expertise needed to identify potential issues and select an appliance that suits your unique needs. Factors like your sleep habits, comfort with adjustment, and financial considerations should also be considered.

Importance of Precise Impressions

Proper dental impressions are the cornerstone of a well-fitting and effective oral appliance. Dentists and trained dental assistants are skilled in making accurate impressions, ensuring the appliance works as intended. DIY impressions, whether digital or traditional, can lead to discomfort and compromised results.

Lack of Follow-Up Care

Sustained success with oral appliance therapy requires ongoing follow-up care. In the absence of professional oversight, patients risk inadequate symptom control, undesirable side effects, and even discontinuation of vital treatment. Patients have reported having to seek corrective care from general dentists after encountering issues with appliances provided by other sources.

The AADSM’s primary mission is to safeguard patients’ well-being by ensuring access to safe and high-quality care. To achieve this, oral appliance therapy must be administered by licensed dentists with specialized training in dental sleep medicine. These professionals possess the knowledge to choose appropriate appliances, minimize potential side effects, and effectively manage any complications.

Both Medicare and most commercial payers firmly emphasize the need for qualified dentists to provide oral appliance therapy. These requirements align with AADSM’s standards and are reinforced by guidelines from authoritative bodies like the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

If you’re contemplating in-home oral appliances for sleep apnea, it’s crucial to heed these warnings. Prioritize your safety and well-being by seeking treatment from qualified dentists who adhere to established standards and guidelines. Effective and safe treatment hinges on the expertise of skilled professionals who can tailor solutions to your specific needs and ensure your journey toward better sleep is both successful and secure.