Oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea continue to increase in popularity for many sleep apnea sufferers. Over 100 different oral appliances are FDA approved for the treatment of sleep apnea. These appliances are worn in the mouth, just like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic appliance while sleeping. Oral appliances hold the lower jaw forward just enough to keep the airway open and prevent the tongue and muscles in the upper airway from collapsing and blocking the airway. Two common oral appliances are the mandibular repositioning device and the tongue retaining device.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has approved Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) as the first line treatment for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea. The AASM also recommends oral appliances for patients with severe sleep apnea, who are unable to tolerate or cannot wear Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices.
Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy:
· Ease of use - Some patients prefer oral appliances because they can be easy to wear. For most patients it takes a few weeks to get used to sleeping with an oral appliance in their mouth.
· Small and easy to transport for travel - unlike CPAP, oral appliances are small enough to fit in the purse or carry-on bag.
*Oral Appliance Therapy may cause side effects: soreness of the mouth, saliva build-up, nausea, and damage or permanent change in position of the jaw, teeth and mouth.