“I am a 55 year old single man who, beyond my demanding career in financial services, enjoys the outdoors through boating, fishing, hiking, and camping. When diagnosed with sleep apnea in 1998, I was told of three treatments, the CPAP, oral appliance, and surgery. At that time I was strongly encouraged to obtain the CPAP system, as the alternatives were virtually dismissed. Knowing very little about apnea at the time, let alone the treatments, I agreed to obtain the CPAP system. The day the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) system was delivered, was a day of intimidation and depression as I recall. Intimidation by way of seeing the head gear, nasal mask, air hose, and machine that I would submit to each night and have to maintain. I felt like I would be turning my bedroom into an intensive care unit, but with a handy carrying case. It was depressing to think that this would be my vehicle of good sleep from that time forward. And, this is to say nothing about relationship intimacy issues. I will leave that to the reader’s imagination. But, I tried the CPAP system for three months. I experienced a great deal of difficulty falling and remaining asleep with the discomfort of the head and nasal gear, the constant air flow, and the hose draped across the bed. There had to be a better way, and there was.
While still wrestling with the CPAP system, I began looking into oral appliances. I found a DDS that offered the NAPA appliance and began the process of creating one for me. As with all oral appliances, the device is formed to hold the lower jaw forward to help open the airway. For me, the NAPA worked very well. I woke feeling rested, without the dull headache, sore throat, and all day fatigue that comes with a non-treated sleep apnea night. And the snoring went from “world class” to a whisper. Best of all, it could easily be tucked away and go anywhere and be used anytime. I used the NAPA for many years, but even with any durable product that gets used for hours every night, it began to wear out. So, I pursued another oral appliance.
My second oral appliance was the Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP). This is a two piece, upper and lower, mouthpiece that is connected together by a metal mechanism that hooks top to bottom with an adjusting device protruding in front. This appliance did work well for awhile and was easy to adjust.
My third oral appliance experience was with the Silent Nite®, a two piece upper and lower thin acrylic mouthpiece. The upper and lower parts are attached with a plastic angled strap that is intended to hold the lower jaw forward. It is very light weight, allows for opening the mouth and movement of the jaw. Nothing protrudes from the mouth and is very comfortable. But, it is definitely not durable and was not very effective in keeping the airway open or eliminating the snoring.
While having some extensive and lengthy dental work done, I went back to using my old NAPA even though it was worn and had lost some of its effectiveness. Upon completion of my dental work, that is when I was introduced to the SomnoMed , a Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS), by Dr. Richard S. Gillum, DDS. , I can say that it has all the best qualities of the oral appliances in my experience. It is durable. I see nothing that can break, similar to the durability of the NAPA. It is very comfortable, allowing movement and complete concealment in the mouth. I can even hold a conversation while wearing it. It is adjustable, allowing various stages of moving the lower jaw forward to open the airway customized for each person’s need. I have enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, thoroughness, and genuine professionalism of those who have been working with me. This has been the best of all treatment experiences that I have had.”