Do Dental Appliances Actually Work for Sleep Apnea?

December 20, 2023
Middle-aged man sleeping peacefully in bed

Usually, when a patient is diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), their doctor is quick to prescribe CPAP therapy. Unfortunately, many people struggle to get into a routine with their CPAP; they may find it to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. The good news is that many OSA patients qualify for a dental sleep appliance, also called an oral appliance. This CPAP alternative has been growing in popularity in recent years, but is it really effective? Yes! This blog post explains what you should know before you decide how to address your OSA.

What Is an Oral Appliance?

The most common type of oral appliance is known as a mandibular advancement device (MAD). It resembles a mouthguard that you would wear for sports. However, it has a different purpose. It gently repositions the mandible (lower jaw), bringing it slightly forward. As a result, it helps to keep the airway open during sleep. Therefore, snoring and apneas (the pauses in breathing that are characteristics of OSA) are greatly reduced or even eliminated.

Many people like oral appliance therapy because it does not involve the use of a mask, hoses, or any noisy machinery. Plus, unlike CPAP machines, the appliances are highly portable, so you can easily take yours with you when you travel.

Who Is a Candidate for Oral Appliance Therapy?

Most people who struggle with OSA can benefit from oral appliance therapy. Here are some indications that you should book an appointment with a qualified sleep dentist:

  • Your partner has observed that you sometimes stop breathing at night, or that you often snore loudly.
  • You often wake up feeling exhausted.
  • You sometimes wake up with a sore throat or headache.
  • You have tried to use a CPAP machine in the past but struggled to comply with your treatment instructions.

Oral appliance therapy is often prescribed for individuals with mild to moderate OSA. However, it also has the potential to help individuals with severe symptoms. In some cases, an oral appliance is used with a CPAP so a patient can experience the benefits of both types of treatment.

What to Expect with Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliances are customized for each patient, so you can expect yours to be as comfortable as possible. Still, you may need to go through a bit of an adjustment period. Once you adapt to your treatment, it should become a normal part of your routine. You may need to periodically visit your sleep dentist so your device can be adjusted to continue providing optimum benefits.

Are you eager to find relief from OSA but reluctant to use a CPAP? Oral appliance therapy might be perfect for you!

Meet the Practice

Under the leadership of double board-certified dental sleep expert Dr. Kenneth Mogell, our practice specializes in providing oral appliance therapy for OSA. Dr. Mogell has well over a decade of experience in his field, and he is eager to put his extensive skills to work for you. To learn more about the services we provide, contact any of our three locations or call our Melbourne office at 321-265-3462.