Oral appliances have a definite role in the management of selected patients with sleep apnea and/or snoring. The appliance will not cure the apnea and/or snoring but works non-surgically to realign the jaw and/or tongue to keep the airway open. Its intention is to prevent the apnea and/or snoring from occurring during sleep and so it must be worn each night to produce the desired effect. Regardless of how long it is worn, the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea or snoring will return when the appliance use is discontinued. There are no guarantees that an appliance will be successful in every patient due to physiologic and anatomic variations and patient tolerance of the appliance.
Oral appliances that treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are devices worn in the mouth, similar to orthodontic retainers or sports mouth guards. They have several advantages over other forms of therapy. Oral appliances are comfortable, easy to wear and care for, and non-invasive. They are small and convenient, making them easy to carry with you when you travel. At McKenzie Towne Family Dental all our Snoring/Sleep Apnea Oral Appliances are custom made to suit your specific physical needs.
Oral appliance therapy is becoming recognized by the medical community as an effective treatment option in the management of sleep breathing disorders. Medical and dental researchers have joined together to evaluate and improve the outcome of treatment with oral appliances. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliances be used in patients with primary snoring or mild obstructive sleep apnea and in patients with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea who are intolerant of or refuse treatment with nasal continuous positive airway pressure.
Research shows that oral appliance therapy is 85%-90% effective in reducing or eliminating snoring and 60%-70% in reducing mild-to-moderate sleep apnea to normal.
Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other means of treating obstructive sleep apnea, including general health and weight management, surgery or nasal continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). Combination therapy should be coordinated by the attending sleep physician.
Oral appliances work in several ways:
- by repositioning the lower jaw and/or tongue
- by stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue
- by increasing the tone of the throat muscles
Oral appliance therapy can take from several weeks to several months to complete. Even after the initial phase of treatment is complete, follow-up visits should continue in order to ensure treatment remains successful and to evaluate the response of the teeth and jaws.
There are two basic categories of oral appliances: tongue-retaining devices and mandibular advancing devices.