Oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea continue to increase in popularity as awareness grows amongst the public that oral appliances are an effective first line treatment for many sleep apnea sufferers.
Over 100 different oral appliances are FDA approved for the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. These appliances are worn in the mouth, just like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic appliance, while you sleep. 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.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has approved oral appliance therapy (OAT) as a first line treatment for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate OSA. The AASM also recommends oral appliances for patients with severe OSA, who are unable to tolerate or cannot wear CPAP devices. Another option for people with severe OSA is combination therapy (wearing CPAP and an oral appliance together) to help reduce the pressure on a CPAP machine, making it more comfortable to use.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment that fits easily into your lifestyle. Patients like oral appliance therapy because it is:
Oral appliance therapy uses a customized and titratable oral appliance that is FDA approved for treatment of OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). The appliance is worn only during sleep to maintain an open, unobstructed airway by supporting the jaw in a forward position
Many patients prefer oral appliance therapy as a solution for living with obstructive sleep apnea. It provides them much improved sleep and offers the following benefits:
Many patients prefer oral appliance therapy as a solution for living with sleep apnea. It provides them much improved sleep and offers the following benefits:
Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective alternative to CPAP. When patients consistently wear their oral appliance, they wake up each morning feeling refreshed.
It can be hard to sleep with a CPAP machine and bulky mask. Patients often like oral appliances because they are comfortable and easier to wear, especially for those who change positions during sleep or snuggle their bed partner.
A CPAP machine may silence the snoring, but its constantly running motor might not help you or your bed partner sleep more soundly. Oral appliance therapy is a silent option that can minimize the symptoms of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring, without making a peep of its own.
It is super easy to care for an oral appliance. Just a toothbrush cleaning with mild soap will keep your appliance germ-free.
It can be difficult to travel with a bulky CPAP machine. A compact, lightweight oral appliance can help lessen your load.
Finding a Dentist
For best results, it is important to find a dental professional who is experienced and has been adequately trained in Dental Sleep Medicine, and who also will be committed to staying in close communication with your physician. Dr. Chapman will work with your physician and obtain a prescription to fabricate a titratable FDA approved sleep appliance.
Adjusting to Oral Appliance Therapy
Since custom made oral appliances are adjustable, your dentist will work with you to maintain your jaw position by continuously monitoring your progress. It is important to maintain a prescribed follow-up schedule with your dentist to ensure the device is working, fitting properly and that you see an improvement in your symptoms. It usually takes only a few days to adjust to wearing the oral appliance all night while sleeping. Our doctor will review the details with you as well as the best way to maintain your oral appliance at home.
Oral Appliance Therapy for OSA:
Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a proven treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and should be presented as an option to patients seeking therapy for OSA.
OAT is effective
Studies have demonstrated that OAT effectively treats OSA through reduction in apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and respiratory disturbance index in patients. Studies have demonstrated similar effectiveness between OAT and CPAP, even among patients with moderate-to-severe OSA.
OAT provides the same short and long-term health benefits as CPAP
Patients comply with OAT
CPAP is often prescribed as the first-line therapy for those with OSA; however, about 50% of patients will become non-compliant with their treatment after one year. Studies have indicated that up to 93% of patients are compliant with OAT.
Patients prefer OAT
As many as 81% of patients prefer OAT to CPAP because it is effective, easy to use, easy to transport, quiet, comfortable, noninvasive, and less obtrusive.
Qualified dentists (not DME companies) manage OAT
Once prescribed by a physician, oral appliances are provided by a qualified dentist, who is trained in the delivery of oral appliances, as well as the nuances of coordinating treatment for a medical disorder with the diagnosing physician. If patients have a problem with their oral appliance or experience side effects, they simply call their qualified dentist.
Medical insurance covers OAT
Medicare and most major commercial insurers cover OAT.
Begin referring to qualified dentists
OSA should only be treated by qualified dentists who have the necessary training to provide optimal care and know how to communicate with both physicians and patients. Dr. Josh Chapman is qualified to provide oral appliance therapy.