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SusanR

SusanR
Joined Oct 2014
SusanR
Joined Oct 2014

This is a great question.

Increasing evidence indicates that dental devices (also known as oral appliances or mandibular advancement devices) can play an important role in the treatment of sleep apnea. In fact, there have been over 70 clinical trials that have evaluated various oral appliances compared to no therapy, compared to alternative oral devices (there are many models), or compared to CPAP. In 2015, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine published an updated guideline on use or oral appliances ( Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine; 2015: 11(7): pages 773-827). They concluded that while CPAP is generally more effective in reducing the AHI, many patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea benefit from oral appliances with improved symptoms, better sleep quality, and reduced numbers of apneas during sleep compared to no treatment. Even some patients with more severe sleep apnea may benefit. Custom-fit devices, which can be "titrated" to meet specific patient needs, was recommended over non-custom devices. A summary of the research on this area led to the recommendation that oral devices be considered for patients who do not tolerate CPAP and that use of these devices should be overseen by both a sleep specialist and a qualified dentist. It is important that response to treatment, symptoms and possible side effects are closely monitored, and changes made as needed.

There are also other treatments for sleep apnea--including hypoglossal (tongue) nerve stimulation and various surgeries. The effectiveness of these depends on a number of factors, such as a person's anatomy and disease severity.

In looking to understand your options, speak to your sleep doctor and discuss any concerns about CPAP. Ask about other options and whether your doctor thinks you are a possible candidate to be further evaluated by a qualified dentist (for an oral device) or a surgeon (for surgery).

I will be asking some of our experts in this area to contribute future blogs to further discuss these topics. You can use the search button to see what other patients say about their treatments.