For many people, oral appliance therapy (OAT) is an excellent CPAP alternative because oral appliances are much easier to care for than continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. This means that, in addition to being more comfortable, OAT is more convenient and can be less expensive if you take care of your oral appliance properly.

At the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness, sleep dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad specializes in dental sleep medicine and provides each patient with a detailed care sheet for their oral appliance. If you’re a current patient, reference that sheet since some individual appliances may have slightly different requirements. However, this article can serve as a general guide and help people decide between OAT and CPAP.

Keep Your Teeth Clean to Protect Your Appliance

If you store your appliance correctly (see below), all the dirt on your oral appliance comes from your mouth. This means that to avoid staining and odors on your appliance, you should start by taking good care of your teeth. 

Brush and floss your teeth carefully. Use toothpaste without colorful dyes, as the residue could stain your appliance. Don’t use colorful mouthwash before putting your oral appliance in. This could also stain your appliance. If your general dentist recommends using mouthwash for oral health, find one without dyes or use it in the morning after taking your appliance out.

How to Clean Your Oral Appliance

Clean your appliance immediately after removing it in the morning. Rinse your appliance in cool or warm water. Never put your oral appliance in boiling water. This can warp or damage the appliance. 

After rinsing, clean your appliance with hand soap and a soft-bristled brush. The soap can be antibacterial, but it doesn’t have to be. You can use soft soap or get soap from a bar. 

You also have several good brush options. If your oral appliance comes with a brush, use that. If it didn’t or if you lost it, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Many people recommend a denture cleaning brush because its bristles are a better shape for cleaning out the inside of the appliance. 

Don’t use toothpaste to clean your appliance. Toothpaste has abrasive particles that are good for cleaning your hard tooth enamel but can scratch your oral appliance. These scratches will make your oral appliance look dull, catch food particles, and shelter oral bacteria, which can give your appliance an unpleasant odor and taste. 

After cleaning, rinse your oral appliance thoroughly, then dry it in a container with air holes.

Should You Soak Your Appliance?

In general, it’s not necessary to soak your appliance. Cleaning once daily should keep it from getting discolored or smelly. However, some manufacturers recommend soaking your appliance periodically to help it stay fresh. These manufacturers will generally supply a soak with your appliance and offer refills for sale on their website or through our office. 

If you do want to soak your appliance, don’t soak it in:

  • Hot or boiling water
  • Bleach
  • Mouthwash
  • Denture cleaners
  • Cleaners intended for other brands of oral appliances

These might damage your oral appliance. Cleaners aren’t necessarily transferable between appliances and dentures because these appliances can be made of very different materials. 

Storing Your Appliance

The best place to store your oral appliance is sleep dentist Dr. Haddad, who gave you the device. If you lose this case, you can use any sturdy plastic case with enough air holes to allow the appliance to dry. Put the case in a cool, dry place out of reach of children and pets. Dogs, in particular, are notorious for chewing up oral appliances. 

Keep your appliance out of direct sunlight, and avoid temperatures over 140° F. In particular, be careful if you’re a truck driver or professional who sometimes stores your appliance in the car. Find a place to keep your appliance that won’t get hot during summer days or when the heat is on.

Repairing Your Appliance

Do not attempt to repair your appliance. Many common materials you might consider for repairs could be toxic, and the repaired appliance might not work correctly. This might mean you aren’t getting the desired results, or it could contribute to side effects like temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD)

If your appliance gets damaged, contact sleep dentist Dr. Haddad. In some cases, a damaged appliance can be repaired. Other times, it may need to be replaced.

Get Convenient Oral Appliance Therapy

Are you considering oral appliance therapy? Let sleep dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad, an expert in dental sleep medicine, evaluate your sleep apnea and anatomy to determine if you’re a good candidate for the treatment. If you are a good candidate, Dr. Haddad can explain its benefits and answer all your questions to help you decide. Then, he can fit you into an ideal sleep appliance suited to your needs.

Please call (248) 480-0085 today to request an appointment at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness, serving the Detroit area from Rochester Hills.