A common question that patients who have done research before having a consultation ask is, "Why do I need oral appliance therapy with a dentist when I can make one at home?" At most pharmacies or grocery stores you can find "boil and bite" mouth guards that claim to help with grinding of teeth and even snoring, so they could work for sleep related breathing disorders too right? Unfortunately no, and here's why.
A Professional Diagnosis and Treatment could be life changing and life saving
The use of an over the counter snore guard may seem like it is helping, but it could be silencing the body’s natural alarm system to let you know there is a problem. Snoring may seem like the problem to fix, however, it is a common symptom of sleep apnea which is a very serious medical condition. Without proper testing and evaluation, there is no way to know if the snoring is harmless. Furthermore, you will not know how severe the sleep apnea might be or what other conditions exist. Sleep apnea is not something to take lightly and should not be treated without a medical diagnosis and trained specialist oversight.
Custom really means custom!
Over the counter snore guards are made from a standard sizing template and most use a boil and bite technique. This means that plastic is added to boiling water to become pliable. While still warm, the patient bites into it causing it to shape to their teeth. It may seem like it fits, but it will not be effective in treatment.
A custom appliance is made in a lab based on impressions of a patients teeth to ensure a precise and comfortable fit. Additionally, the most important part of oral appliance therapy is what position the jaw is held in. The therapeutic position is determined through evaluation and an acoustic airway titration exam. Boil and bite appliances do not allow for the jaw position to be selected in the fitting process.
The recommendations of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) specifically recommend custom appliances that are provided and monitored only by trained dentists. All patients experiencing the signs and symptoms of sleep disorders should be screened and treated by a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine. Custom oral appliances have been studied and tested for their comfort, fit, and effectiveness in the treatment of sleep apnea and snoring, while over-the-counter appliances are unproven and can lead to dangerous side effects. Sleep apnea is a serious disease worthy of the knowledge and consideration that goes into diagnosing, choosing, and fitting a custom sleep appliance. The choice is easy when comparing boil and bite vs. custom oral appliances. It is putting your health at risk to not consult a professional and use an over-the-counter appliance instead.