According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, oral appliances are a front-line treatment for snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. These small plastic devices fit in the mouth during sleep like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer.
Oral appliances help prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, keeping the airway open during sleep and promoting adequate air intake. Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other treatments for sleep-related breathing disorders, such as weight management, surgery or CPAP.
What is Oral Appliance Therapy?
Oral appliance therapy involves the selection, fitting and use of a specially designed oral appliance that maintains an open, unobstructed airway in the throat when worn during sleep. Dentists are among the first line of defense in treating patients who suffer with snoring or sleep apnea. After extensive dental continuing education, Dentists are trained with the complete sleep protocol and are familiar with the various designs of appliances.
Custom-made oral appliances are proven to be effective, and provide a higher rate of patient compliance than the CPAP. When fitting your patients for an oral appliance, remember: Its not the appliance you choose, but more importantly the position in which the mandible is placed.
Ongoing care, including short- and long-term follow-up is an essential step in the treatment of snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliance Therapy.