Oral appliance therapy involves treating snoring and apnea with small custom devices that are worn in the mouth similar to sports mouth guards or orthodontic retainers. These devices are fabricated through a process guided by a sleep apnea trained dentist.
Custom oral devices work by repositioning the lower jaw and or tongue helping prevent muscles and tissues from collapsing into the airway that causes a narrowing or a full blockage of the air passage. This, in turn, prevents snoring or apnea events.
These devices may be worn alone or used in combination with other treatments, such as weight management, surgery, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy and positional devices.
There are over 150 oral devices (with FDA clearance) of which custom devices account for about 96 of them. No one particular device is best for all individuals. A well-trained dentist can guide you through the process needed to obtain one best suited for you.
For snoring, oral appliances are about 85-90% effective.
In individuals with obstructive sleep apnea, there is approximately a 60-80% chance that an oral appliance will be effective. Factors such as an experience of the dentist providing the service, limitations of the device chosen, the severity of apnea, natural jaw movements and weight of the individual can all impact success levels.
Compared to CPAP therapy, oral devices stack up quite high in ‘effectiveness.’ CPAP therapy may be more effective when used, but oral devices are tolerated considerably and worn for more hours than CPAP therapy. In other words, they might be similar if overall effectiveness in treating apnea. See more on this on this research article. See also this article for patient preference on CPAP vs Oral Appliance Therapy.
Who are professional oral devices suitable for?
Most recent guidelines of sleep medicine have published recommendations for those best suited to wear a prescribed oral appliance. These include:
- For individuals who SNORE who have been confirmed NOT to have apnea
- For apnea patients who CANNOT or REFUSE CPAP Therapy
- For apnea patients who PREFER oral appliances than CPAP treatment.
- For CPAP compliant patients who are interested in an alternative
Where do I find a dentist trained in oral appliance therapy?
To start your safe and effective path to quiet sleep, see the Find-A-Trained -Dentist link on the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine website.
More on Oral Appliance Therapy