Tucson Dentist News

can i eat before dental sedation

Can I Eat Before Dental Sedation? Tips To Prepare

For sedation dentistry services in Tucson, AZ, call Smile Perfection at 520-293-2166.

Dental sedation refers to the process of a dental professional administering a sedative before an operation to alleviate dental anxieties. This sedative helps patients relax, allowing the procedure to go smoothly. 

Many patients have questions about the dental sedation process, like “can I eat before dental sedation?” 

Smile Perfection is Tucson’s most trustworthy dental office offering several dental care services such as dental implants, sleep apnea mouthguards, and much more. Our experienced team ensures that you leave our office feeling positive about your dental health. 

Here are some tips to help you prepare for your operation, depending on the type of sedation provided by your dentist. 

Nitrous Oxide 

When patients ask, “can I eat before dental sedation?” it depends on what sedation type their dentist uses during the operation. 

If your procedure requires nitrous oxide, there are no diet restrictions before your appointment. Nitrous oxide is commonly referred to as laughing gas. It is the mildest form of oral sedation that dentists use. 

When you inhale nitrous oxide, you will be aware of your surroundings during the procedure. However, the sedative will relax you to the point of not feeling anxious. 

We recommend eating light before your procedure. This sedative does make some patients nauseous. Therefore, you should keep eating to a minimum until you know how your body reacts to nitrous oxide. 

Oral Sedation 

Oral sedation refers to a dental professional giving a patient a sedative pill before a procedure. Because people react differently to oral medication, advice varies regarding whether or not you should eat beforehand.

You can drink clear liquids leading up to your procedure. For expert advice, consult with your dental professional before your appointment. 

IV Sedation 

The strongest form of sedation is when an oral surgeon uses an IV to sedate a patient. You will be unaware of what is going on in the operating room. 

Typically, your dentist will provide you with dietary limitations leading up to the procedure. In most cases, you cannot eat for up to six hours before your procedure. It is best to show up with an empty stomach. 

Local Anesthesia

Although local anesthesia is not technically a form of sedation, you may have dietary restrictions implemented by your dentist. We recommend eating light, as anesthesia may cause nausea. 

Anesthesia will numb most of the pain during your procedure. You may feel a slight pinch when your dentist injects the numbing agent. Otherwise, you should feel next to nothing. 

Schedule an Appointment Today

We hope we provided an answer to your question, “can I eat before dental sedation?” 

Smile Perfection aims to make you feel as comfortable as possible before dental sedation. Our hospitable customer service staff will answer all your questions before your appointment, relieving any stress you may have about your procedure. 

To schedule a dental appointment with Smile Perfection for yourself or your child, call our Tucson, Arizona office at 520-293-2166

We are also available for emergency dental work at any time! Here, you can learn more about dental anesthesia.

Dentistry at Home

Dentist check a patient at home

Research shows that there is a strong link between heart diseases and gum disease. Gum diseases and tooth decay can affect the quality of life for the elderly. Regular dental care ensures that aging patients remain hearty and healthy.

However, more often than not, they do not seek dental treatment due to various disabilities. An at-home dentist ensures that housebound and elderly patients receive proper dental care. Equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, they provide dental care in the comfort of their home.

This article takes you through at-home dentistry, its benefits, services, and more. Not sure how this works, we also show you the entire process from making an appointment to the dental visit.

Do Dentists do House Calls?

Not all dentists do house calls. Only a mobile dentist has the training or equipment to treat you at home. They make house call visits to

  • Independent living homes
  • Nursing homes
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Hospices
  • Retirement homes

A mobile dentist can do dental treatments in beds or wheelchairs where ever the patient feels comfortable. They do almost anything that is done in an office.

What is Mobile Dentistry?

The practice of providing dental care for a patient in their own home is called mobile dentistry. This makes it possible for seniors and bedbound patients to receive dental care. They are a mobile dental clinic equipped with portable technology that allows a dentist to provide quality care. It may include:

  • Wheeled dental units
  • Sterilization units
  • Handheld Xrays
  • Custom dental chairs

This enables the dentists to diagnose and treat various dental issues at home or at-site. Mobile dentists are also highly qualified to treat dental emergencies at your house.

Why Choose a Home Dental Care?

There are many reasons why a patient may choose at-home dental care instead of a clinic. The most important of them are disability and advanced age. People with disabilities find it hard to travel to a clinic and, above all, wait for their turn. Other patients who may require are people with:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Visual impairments
  • Cognitive disabilities

Fitted out with state-of-the-art mobile equipment, home dental care provides the same quality of care as a traditional setting. This allows them to be independent while availing dental care in the confines of their home.

In-home dentistry also helps the dentist understand the home environment. This makes it easy to adjust their treatment. Home visits also benefit people who are low on time. Since there are no waiting times, patients on a time crunch can still work and not lose their oral health.

How Does At-Home Dental Care Work?

woman patient visiting dentist

Not able to visit a dentist for some reason? An at-home dentist will come to you at your own home. While the choices are limited, they should be able to perform any essential treatment. However, keep in mind that not all dentists do home visits.

You need to find a dental service that specializes in at-home dentistry. Google and Yelp can do the leg work for you and find some relevant dentists close to you. Here’s how it works.

Schedule Dental Exams

You should be able to book an appointment online or via phone. Once your appointment is booked, the dentist will contact you to discuss the timings of the visit. Do not wait in case of dental emergencies. In-home dentists are experienced in handling any dental emergency.

Dental Team Visit

The visiting dental professionals perform an evaluation, including x-rays in the patient’s home. If any immediate treatment is necessary, they will get it out of the way in the first visit. In case the patient needs any continued care, they will work with you to schedule another visit. For example, in the case of dentures, impressions need to be sent to the lab. And the denture will be fitted in the follow-up visit.

Mobile dentists also do routine cleaning for maintaining proper dental health. It also helps protect against decay. You will be required to make a follow-up appointment as and when needed. They also instruct the family members or the caregiver about the oral care needed for the patient.

Routine Follow-up Visits

According to the experts, you need to do a routine dental checkup every six months. And a periodic cleaning every three months. Regular dental exams and cleanings are vital for good oral health.

They will also schedule any follow-up visits, including periodic checkups. Any logistics related to the schedule will be taken care of by them.

What Does a House Call from a Dentist Entail?

A mobile dentist specializes in treating a patient from the comfort of their own home. They work with the patient for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental diseases.

A house call with your dentist includes an oral assessment wherein they evaluate your oral and general health. Then they formulate an oral therapy (prevention and maintenance) for continued treatment. They will also treat you within the scope of their practice.

In case of any issues with your dental prosthetics, a visiting prosthodontist should be able to help you. However, it may take multiple visits from a dentist.

Benefits of At-Home Dental Care

Though the reach of mobile dentistry is not as broad as a traditional setting, it has quite a few benefits. Above all, it enables seniors and the disabled to access dental care from within their homes.

Here are a few benefits of at-home dental care:

Quality Dental Care

Mobile dentistry helps seniors, and people with limited mobility to receive quality dental care. Limited mobility includes bedridden, homebound, and those who use wheelchairs. Often in a traditional setting, it is difficult for them to receive proper dental care. Furthermore, you can get the work done fast with fewer distractions.

Compassionate Dental Care

For people who cannot leave the confines of their home, at-home dental care is quite useful. It is also helpful for special needs people who feel disoriented in a new environment. The unorthodox environment also reduces the stress level associated with a dental visit.

Comprehensive Services

Much like a clinic, a mobile dental clinic offers a wide variety of treatments to its patients. Of course, there are accessibility issues, but a specialist would handle those. From routine cleaning to root canal and extraction, mobile dentists offer comprehensive services.

Dental Emergencies

Not all dentists will be able to fit in your emergencies. But your mobile dentist will always be equipped for any dental emergency that may arise at any time of the day. And it also provides a stress-free environment to seniors.

Oral Care for Elderly Patients and Homebound Patients

Dental care for the elderly is quite different from that of others. More often than not, their dental needs are not met. The mobile clinic is equipped with dentists who specialize in treating seniors and other bedbound patients. They bridge the gap by providing geriatric care and much-needed attention.

Dental Services for Home Bound Patients

dentist visiting an old patient at home

All at-home dentists should be able to provide routine cleaning and assessment. Apart from that, they also perform the following dental procedures.

  • Oral exam
  • Digital x-ray
  • Tooth extraction
  • Assess and treat tooth pain
  • Filling (for tooth decay)
  • Root canal treatment 
  • Fix broken or loose dentures
  • Denture adjustments

With mobile dentistry, you can receive quality dental care in the conform of your home.

Can You Fill a Tooth at Home?

It is not advisable to fill a tooth without the supervision of a dentist. Home tooth filling kits do not work as efficiently as those done by dentists. However, if you cannot visit a clinic, a mobile dentist can do a tooth filling in your home.

Can Tooth Extraction be Done at Home?

It is never safe to do a tooth extraction at home without a dentist being present. The chances are that you may end up breaking the tooth, and parts of it can still stay inside. If you are in pain, either visit a dental emergency. Or contact an at-home dental clinic. They will perform the tooth extraction in the comfort of your home.


At-home dental care is an alternative to the traditional setting for seniors. And it is also a godsend for people confined to their homes like the disabled and special needs.

The main advantage is that the patients do not need to leave the comfort of their homes. They can also avoid the long queues and wait in waiting rooms. At-home dentistry brings dental care right to your living room.

On the downside, they can be expensive but not by a considerable margin. However, the quality of dental care at both at-home and a traditional setting remains the same. And so are the services. In a home environment, they are much more portable and handy.

Here at Smile Perfection, Dr. Pandhi can perform nearly all the same procedures during dental house calls as in his office: fillings, root canals, crowns, bridges, restorative work, and periodontal treatments, including root planning and scaling. To schedule an appointment or speak with our team about our dental house calls in the Tucson, AZ area, please call 520-293-2166 or fill out the form on our Contact page.

Mobile Dentistry: A Solution for Those Who Can’t Leave Their Home

Mobile Dentistry - Dental Van & Dentist with Assistant

Mobile Dentistry

A survey from dentists reports that 49.1% of disabled people rarely if ever go to the dental office.

As more seniors live alone, especially during the pandemic, the fear of being trapped in your home is a genuine concern. Many people with limited mobility go to great lengths to go out for dental appointments. Yet, there are still some things that can be done at home – like receiving dental care.

Luckily, there’s an option for these individuals: mobile dentistry. The process only involves one visit to your home by the dentist, which can take up to two hours. Those who don’t have easy access to dentists and can’t leave their homes can use at-home care. It makes it possible for you to receive treatment without having to come to the clinic or hospital!

If you cannot travel out of the house, then a mobile dental clinic is your best option.

Can Dentists Do Home Visits?

Yes! Dentists associated with mobile dental clinics offer home visits at an affordable rate. A mobile dentist is someone who gives dental care at your home. This option makes it easier for the elderly, special needs, or disabled to access dental care.

Mobile clinics are otherwise equipped with state-of-the-art mobile equipment and dental materials.

People who cannot come to the dentist can avail of mobile care. This also goes for people bed-bound in:

  • Nursing Homes
  • Geriatric Care
  • Independent Living Homes
  • Assisted Living Facilities
  • Private Homes
  • Hospice

What Is Mobile Dentistry?

Mobile dental services can help you receive good care from a dentist in the comfort of your own home! It allows a dentist to visit you in your own home if your health warrants it. That way, you can receive oral care without ever having to leave your house. 

Mobile dental care is suitable for elderly patients and homebound patients. Besides, it can help people with other problems, like anxiety, and health conditions. Furthermore, it helps brings the latest innovation in the field of dentistry to your home. 

How Does In-Home Dental Care Work?

To receive dental care from mobile dentists, you will first need a referral from your primary care provider. After that, the mobile dental team will come to your house with all their equipment. First, they assess and evaluate your oral health. After that, they will be able to provide you with dental care in your own home.

Mobile Dental Services - X-Ray

Dental clinics offer a variety of services such as:

  • Oral Exams
  • Teeth Cleanings (Prophylaxis)
  • Fillings (Restorations) for Cavities
  • Digital X-Rays
  • Extractions
  • Root Canal Treatment (When Necessary)
  • Gum Disease (Gingivitis or Periodontitis) Management
  • Denture Adjustments & Repairs
  • Oral Hygiene Advice

You shouldn’t have to worry about leaving your house to receive oral care. The mobile dental office brings dentists to your home or place of work.

Benefits of Mobile Dentistry

There are quite a few benefits associated with mobile dentistry. First of all, you can receive treatment in the comfort of your own home. Second, it is very convenient because you don’t have to go anywhere or take time off work for appointments.

Here are a few benefits of mobile dental care:


In-home dental clinics are a boon to seniors and other people with limited mobility. It also helps the patients who are bedridden or confined to wheelchairs. This is because they can access dental care in the comfort of their homes. 

Moreover, it takes the clinic to remote areas where dentists are scarce. It helps you get treatment without worrying about the expenses like in a clinic scenario. 

Besides, there can be times when there is an emergency, but your dentist may not be able to see you. In such cases, a mobile dental office can come in very handy.

Ease of Compassionate Dental Care

For many patients, the idea to get dental treatment at their doorstep is most welcome. It can be a great relief for many people and give them more freedom than they had before. The team brings all equipment necessary for treating you without having to leave home. This means no more sitting in dentists’ chairs for hours on end. It also reduces the stress level of patients who are anxious about dental procedures and pain.

Compassion, Convenience, and Comfort

Aside from the ease of access, receiving at-home treatment can be beneficial. Not only are you at the comfort of your home, but you also return to your tasks soon after. Besides, the patients are more confident when they receive treatment where they feel safe and secure.

Furthermore, visiting clinics is a hassle for people with busy schedules. Mobile dental services are convenient as they come to you at your time and place of choice.

Quality of Mobile Dentistry Treatment

People in remote places have fewer chances of receiving quality dental care. This has been a subject of contention in many rural communities. A mobile dental office contains the necessary equipment for all treatments like a clinic. 

Mobile clinics are also outfitted with a pool of mobile dentists ready to head out for calls. Hence there is no question about quality. Moreover, it also provides a stress-free environment and reduces anxiety levels during procedures.

Moreover, they are equipped with the necessary equipment designed to handle dental emergencies. Thus, it can benefit older adults who need oral care but not enough to warrant a trip to the dentist’s office.  

How to Find a Mobile Dentist

Mobile Dentist Directory

Mobile dentists follow a different service model from that of a traditional setup. They are generally mobile with a dental van equipped with modern equipment. This enables the dentist to provide care at your home. 

In-home care is not as prevalent, and it may be challenging to find mobile dentists in your area.

  • Online dental directories can be a great place to start looking.
  • Ask your current dental care provider if they offer mobile services.
  • Reach out to the local area hospitals and medical centers. Many of them provide dental service, too, along with other health facilities. In addition, you might want to check their website or directory for service providers.
  • Take advantage of dental insurance. Many insurances cover the cost of dental emergencies. You can get coverage if you are enrolled in a plan that your company or employer manages.
  • Some many dental clinics and offices can offer mobile services too. If not, they will be able to help find an in-home dentist nearest to where you live.

Cost of a Mobile Dental Visit 

The cost of mobile dental care differs depending on the service provider and the treatments. Mobile clinics cost an average of $80 per hour for services with a minimum charge of two hours at the mobile clinic. However, if your treatment requires more time, that will be factored into the dental care costs.

Many insurance companies offer discount plans that help lower the cost. You can also ask about any fee assistance programs offered by service providers in your area if need be. 

Mobile dental clinics may be more expensive than your traditional care. However, they provide benefits that are worth the cost. That makes any difference in cost negligible if you have better health and peace of mind.

You do not have to worry about costs as most mobile clinics are covered under Medicare and other health insurance. In any case, financial assistance and fee reduction programs can help lower the cost. 

Why Should You Choose Board-Certified, Licensed Dentists?

If you are looking for dental care at home, find a dentist who has had training in handling emergencies. Moreover, they should have the necessary credentials, such as certification from the dental board.

  • A mobile dentist must be qualified to ensure good dental treatment at home, which you deserve.
  • A qualified dentist will be able to provide high-quality dental care and services. In addition, they will make sure that you are safe and comfortable during your dental check-up.
  • They will be able to help you with your current health condition and also with any dental needs that you have.

Considering the above, you should look for board-certified service providers. Board certification is an assurance of quality dental care and services. In addition, the dentists must pass rigorous testing by the American Dental Association to prove their expertise in certain areas.

With a board-certified dentist, patient safety and health are his priority. Board certification means that the service providers are up-to-date with the latest developments. This way, they can provide their patients with up-to-date information about dental care.

Who Are Qualified to Receive Mobile Dentistry Services?

In-home dental care is a good choice for people who cannot travel far and still want to go to the dentist. If you are wondering whether you qualify for in-home dental service, it is best to ask your service provider.

They will be able to provide the dental services you need in-house, and then monitor your dental health at home. Generally, patients suffering from one or more of the following chronic conditions are eligible for in-home dental services:

In-house dental services may be provided by a dentist, dental hygienist, or an assistant. The person who provides the service depends on the needs of the patient and their care plan.

What to Expect During Your First Visit with an In-Home Dentist

Your dentist will meet with you and your health care team to discuss treatments if there is an emergency.

During the dental visit, they will take x-rays and pictures of your teeth so that they can do an assessment. This way, they will be able to provide personalized care and services for your needs.

First, the patients will have a take an appointment both for dental care and emergencies. Following that, the team will assess the condition of your teeth and oral health. Then they can decide what you need in terms of the treatment plan.

Mobile Dentistry vs Traditional – Which Is Better?

Pros & Cons to Traditional & Mobile Dentistry

Mobile dentistry is an alternative to the traditional setup for people who cannot travel far from their homes due to age or health limitations.

People who live in rural areas will benefit the most from this structure. It can be challenging for them to get to a dentist during an emergency. An in-home clinic often provides the same services as a dentist’s office, plus you don’t need to travel.

In a traditional setting, dental treatments are performed by the dentist in a clinic. Therefore, the quality of care in an office setting remains high. The main disadvantage is that you will have a limited schedule since you’re not treated at your home. 

On the other hand, patients who cannot get out of their homes can take advantage of dental care in a home setting.

It is best to note that services at an office and clinic are pretty similar. But the main question here is which one do you prefer? If you have health issues or mobility problems, it’s better to go for a mobile clinic. But if you don’t have any limitations, the clinic may be the better option.


Mobile dentistry is a new trend in the dental industry. It brings a dental office to people who cannot travel far. The main advantage of this service is that the patients do not need to leave their homes. Moreover, they can also avoid long waiting lists at regular clinics. However, there are some disadvantages, too. For example, the care may be more expensive than a regular office visit.

Mobile dentistry is a good choice for elderly and disabled people who cannot travel far and still want treatment. If you are wondering whether you qualify for mobile dental services, it is best to ask your service provider. They will be able to provide the services you need in the clinic, and then monitor your oral health under a “mobile care” plan. Generally, patients with chronic conditions are eligible for mobile dentistry.

Here at Smile Perfection, Dr. Pandhi can perform nearly all the same procedures during dental house calls as in his office: fillings, root canals, crowns, bridges, restorative work, and periodontal treatments, including root planning and scaling. To schedule an appointment or speak with our team about our dental house calls in the Tucson, AZ area, please call 520-293-2166 or fill out the form on our Contact page.

A related article you may also enjoy:

Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea

CPAP Machine for Sleep ApneaSleep apnea, derived from the Greek word apnoia meaning “absence of respiration”, is a common sleep disorder in the United States affecting more than 22 million Americans. Research states that 10% of women and 25% of men suffer from sleep apnea. Another research by the National Commission on Sleep Disorders has alarming information, reporting that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) increases the risk of:

  • Coronary heart disease by 30%
  • Heart failure by 140%
  • Stroke by 60%

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines remain to be the most recommended treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnea. However, not all patients can tolerate CPAP. Few find it limiting, invasive, and even suffocating. In that case, oral appliance therapy can work as an alternative to CPAP therapy.

This article walks you through dental devices for sleep apnea, cost, pros and cons, and much more. But first, we will dive into sleep apnea, types, symptoms, and side effects.

Main Topics:

Sleep Apnea

Sleep ApneaThis is a rather serious sleep disorder where your breathing is interrupted during sleep. As the terms apnea indicates, your breathing pauses for 10 seconds or more throughout the night. It occurs when the upper airway is blocked, thereby reducing or stopping airflow. Depending on the severity, your breathing can stop, sometimes even hundreds of times. When untreated, sleep apnea can cause quite a lot of health issues, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Diabetes

Apart from health problems, it is also the reason for accidents (work and vehicles). Furthermore, patients suffering from sleep apnea underperform in schools and at jobs.

Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is categorized into 3 types:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when there is a partial or complete blockage of the upper airway during sleep. During an active episode, the chest muscles and the diaphragm works harder and exert more pressure to open the airway. Hence you may resume breathing with a gasp.
  • Central Sleep Apnea occurs when the brain misfires, often failing to signal the muscles to breathe. This happens due to the instability of the respiratory system.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea, as the name indicates, is a mix of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.


Sleep Apnea SymptomsTo start with, you need a sleep study to help diagnose the condition. The symptoms make it difficult to diagnose it otherwise. The signs and symptoms of sleep apnea (obstructive and central) include:

  • Snoring
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Teeth grinding
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Morning headache
  • Insomnia
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty paying attention

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

OSA is one of the most common forms of sleep apnea in the United States. It occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax. These muscles support the uvula, soft palate, tonsils, and tongue. When they relax, that airway closes as you breathe, leaving you with little air. Without enough air, the oxygen level in the blood continues to drop. When your brain is altered from the reduced levels, you wake up so that you can breathe again. However, it is brief, and you choke or gasp as you awaken. The pattern repeats throughout the night, preventing you from having a deep sleep.

Side Effects of OSA

OSA is a serious medical condition. Studies show that OSA decreases life expectancy. When untreated, it can have a detrimental effect on your health. The complications may include:

  • Daytime Fatigue: The repeated awakening can disrupt your normal sleep cycle. Furthermore, it increases fatigue, irritability, drowsiness, and even depression.
  • High Blood Pressure: The sudden drop in oxygen levels increases the blood pressure. It also strains the cardiovascular system.
  • Heart Problems: Apnea can also increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. In the case of a preexisting condition, the repeated low oxygen levels can lead to death.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: OSA increases your risk of insulin resistance and developing diabetes.
  • Metabolic Syndrome: High blood pressure and high blood sugar lead to metabolic issues. And also an increased waist circumference.
  • Liver Problems: Livers of sleep apnea patients show scarring (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease). They also have abnormal liver function tests.
  • Finally, patients with sleep apnea may face difficulties when under general anesthesia. Since they are prone to breathing problems, it can be a cause for concern.

What Device Helps Relieve OSA?

Doctors recommend a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device for OSA. The CPAP machine delivers a continuous flow of air through a nasal mask while you sleep. The pressure of air is higher than the surrounding air, which keeps the airways open. On the downside, the machine may be cumbersome, restricting, and loud, and also requires weekly, if not daily, cleaning maintenance.

What Is Oral Appliance Therapy?

Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea. In this form of therapy, an oral appliance similar to a retainer is fitted over your teeth. When worn at night, it repositions the jaw or tongue hence removing the obstruction. But they can be uncomfortable, at least in the beginning.

Since mouth and jaw shape differs for every person, oral devices are generally custom-fitted by a dentist. When worn daily, they improve sleep quality, reduce fatigue and restore your health.

If you and your doctor decide that oral appliance is the best treatment option, he will refer you to a dentist. The dentist will custom-fit an oral appliance for you. It is an ongoing treatment, and you will be under regular observation to ensure a proper fit.

Does Oral Appliance Therapy Work for Sleep Apnea?

Not everyone benefits from oral devices. Oral appliance therapy works only for mild to moderate sleep apnea. People suffering from severe sleep apnea prefer CPAP therapy and not dental devices. However, you can use it if you cannot tolerate CPAP machines. Something is better than no treatment at all. Oral appliances may not be helpful for patients suffering from central apnea.

In short, you can benefit from oral devices if:

  • Sleep apnea gets better when you sleep on your back
  • You are not overweight

A point often overlooked is that treatment options often vary depending on the patient. Unless you are fitted out by a professional and tried an oral device, you can not know if it will work for you.

What Is the Most Effective Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea?

Mandibular advancement devices (MADs) are the most effective dental devices for treating sleep apnea. They look similar to the mouth guards used by sports professionals. When worn, the devices snap over the upper and lower dental arches. Furthermore, they also have metal hinges that make it possible for the lower jaw to be eased forward so that it does not fall open during the night and cause the airway to collapse. There are 3 types of MADs:

  • Boil and Bite MADs: These can be bought online and from pharmacies. To get a good fit, soften the resin or silicone with hot water, then after it has cooled slightly, place the device inside your mouth and clamp down. Some of these devices now include the ability to adjust to the user.
  • Semi-Custom Devices: These require the user to have a custom mold made of their teeth. The mold is then sent away to be custom fitted. The drawback of using this type of MAD is if the device doesn’t fit your mouth properly, it will need to be sent back to be fixed.
  • Custom Dental MADs: These MADs are based on physician referrals and custom-made by dentists or sleep specialists (somnologists). The benefit here is that they offer a more perfect fit and the ability to be refined by experts.

Some dental devices like the Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP) allow you to control the degree of advancement. The following video shows you how to use and adjust the TAP device:

How Long Does an Oral Appliance Last?

Dental appliances, whatever they may be, are effective for a year or two at the most with regular use. With proper maintenance, you can get a few more months out of it. After that, the materials start to weaken, and the device starts to lose its efficiency. If you suffer from bruxism, it can last only six months (which is rare)

If you choose a mouth guard, you will have to replace it every few years to get the best out of it.

How Much Do Oral Appliances Cost?

Depending on the oral device, it can cost anywhere from $1,800 – $2,000. This includes:

  • Dental device
  • Adjustments
  • Dental visits
  • Follow-ups
  • Alterations

Are Dental Appliances Covered by Insurance?

Medical insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, offers coverage for dental appliances. However, you’ll need a diagnosis of OSA from a sleep specialist and not snoring. For mild to moderate OSA, they cover custom oral devices as being “medically necessary”. In the case of severe OSA, the patient is required to use a CPAP machine. However, if they cannot tolerate a CPAP machine, dental devices are also covered.

Pros of Dental Appliances

Dental devices must be used under the guidance of qualified dentists and doctors who specialize in sleep disorders. However, when used in a consistent manner, many patients see improvements quite early. The benefits of oral appliances include:

  • Easy to use: They have a higher rate of compliance compared to any other sleep apnea treatment.
  • Discrete: Unlike CPAP and BiPAP, these are not visible to your bed partner.
  • Compact: These devices are pretty small; Hence portable and convenient.
  • Energy Efficient: Unlike CPAP machines, they do not require electricity to function. Hence, they are cheaper to use in the long term.

Pros & Cons of Dental AppliancesCons of Dental Appliances

Dental devices for sleep apnea come with their complications. Most patients experience discomfort and jaw pain, to name a few. Here are a few disadvantages of a dental device.

  • You may not be able to use an oral device with missing teeth.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) arthritis is common among patients who use oral devices.
  • A permanent change in the position of the jaw
  • The shifting position of the jaw causes teeth pain, gum pain, soreness, and stiffness.
  • Patients sometimes experience dry mouth or increased saliva production.
  • Dental crowns and bridges may be left loose.

How Do Oral Devices Treat Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes and obstructs the airway. The dental devices work to prevent sagging and to keep the windpipe open. There are three types of Oral Appliances. Each one of them works in a different way to keep you breathing in a usual manner.

Mandibular Advancement Devices

Also called Jaw Advancing Devices, the devices are fitted over your lower and upper teeth. They feature metal hinges and screws that help push the lower jaw forward. When your jaw is pushed forward, the airway is forced to stay open by the forward movement. As a result, these devices improve the strength and firmness of the trachea.

Tongue Retaining Devices

A tongue retaining device holds the tongue forward, thereby keeping the airway open. They consist of a soft plastic splint that holds your tongue outside your mouth. Contrary to that of MADs, this dental device doesn’t affect the jaw in any way. Instead, they control the tongue, which can be uncomfortable.

Mouth Guards

Similar to Mads, these dental devices adjust your lower jar but to a lesser degree. Contrary to MADs and TREDs, you use store-bought generic devices. One of the most common devices is the boil-and-bite. Here, the plastic device is boiled in water for about a minute to soften it. Then, place the softened plastic in your mouth and bite down for it to mold around your teeth.

How Effective Are Dental Appliances for Sleep Apnea?

Oral devices are not effective for all patients. They work the best for mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). However, they do not work for severe conditions. CPAP machines are the universally accepted sleep apnea treatment for severe OSA. In some cases, they are also used in conjunction with a CPAP machine to increase efficiency.

Dental devices are also used as a substitute for people who cannot tolerate CPAP. They are cost-effective and also less invasive. Doctors use it in conjunction with a weight loss program for maximum effectiveness.

Considering the above, you must work with your doctor to find a suitable treatment. After receiving the device, you may need another sleep test to find out its effectiveness.


Oral Cavity Structure - UPPP Surgery for Severe Sleep ApneaOral devices are effective treatment options for patients suffering from sleep apnea. While used for mild and moderate sleep apnea, they are also used when CPAP therapy doesn’t work. The primary purpose of this device is to keep the airway open, preventing it from collapse.

These devices help to control sleep apnea in the long run. However, they have potential drawbacks, which include altered bite, arthritis of the jaw (TMJ), excessive salivation, to name a few. Once fitted with the device, you will require regular checkups for adjustments and replacement if needed.

Apart from dental devices, CPAP therapy also works to bring sleep apnea under control. Very severe cases may require uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) surgery. This surgery has the goal of enlarging a specific portion of the airway and prevent snoring and airway collapse. It also involves trimming of the soft palate and removal of swollen tonsils or adenoids.

However, the treatment option for sleep apnea depends on the severity of the condition and other medical problems you may have. In addition to that, the structure of your jaw, airway, and finally your personal preference are also considered. Work with your sleep specialist (somnologist) to select the best option.

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