Are Oral Appliances Effective?

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is recognized as an effective therapy for many with primary snoring and mild to moderate OSA, as well as those with more severe OSA who cannot tolerate positive airway pressure (PAP) therapies.” Cranio: The Journal of Craniomandibular Practice

There needs to be an alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure for treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). That alternative is oral appliance therapy. Studies over the last decade have consistently demonstrated that oral appliances can resolve problem snoring and persistent sleep apnea. Consider the following quotations from medical journals dedicated to sleep and respiratory disorders:

In adults with predominately moderate to severe OSA, the short term (one month) use of an adjustable MAD was not inferior to CPAP.” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

Oral appliance therapy should be considered as a viable treatment alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS).” Sleep by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies

Important health outcomes were similar after 1 month of optimal MAD and CPAP treatment in patients with moderate-severe OSA.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

Doctors, scientists and researchers agree that OAT works. While CPAP does create higher blood oxygen levels, it does so by forcing air down your throat at pressure. This process alone is uncomfortable for many patients and is rather a “brute force” method of getting oxygen to your lungs.

Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy

CPAP has an alternative and it is called OAT.

The choice in sleep apnea therapies is partially yours.

Simplicity: the primary benefit of OAT is that it is simply easier to do. One of the major reasons why it works is because patients actually use it consistently — unlike CPAP machines. To use an oral appliance you just put it in your mouth. Custom-made appliances fit your teeth and jaw exactly, so they stay in place, are generally considered comfortable and make no noise whatsoever.

Convenience: oral appliances do not require an electrical source. While CPAP battery technology has improved, using a machine still requires carrying around a bag full of equipment and plugging it in to recharge. Try that next time you are backpacking or mountain climbing. Most outdoor enthusiasts and regular travelers appreciate the ease of using and carrying an oral appliance.

Durability: an oral appliance needs to be cleaned every day when you brush your teeth in the morning. Hopefully, you brush your teeth regularly, taking care of that maintenance step. Besides that, your dentist at the Sacramento Dentistry Group may adjust it from time to time when you come in, to make sure it still fits perfectly. Basically, there’s almost no maintenance. An oral appliance usually lasts well over five years. CPAP machines are much more complicated, may require battery changes and have lots of parts to care for and maintain.

Personal Defense: Score one for the CPAP machine. It’s heavy enough to throw at a burglar and do some damage. Your oral appliance might just smear them with some saliva.

The Conclusion on OAT Effectiveness

Couples can again sleep together when snoring and sleep apnea are resolved.

The goal of sleep apnea therapy: a good night’s sleep for everyone!

Basically, the use of oral appliances in sleep apnea treatment comes down to one question: which system do you prefer? While the numbers are smaller, some people like their CPAP device more than oral appliances. Others like to use both. The majority, however, side with the emerging use of oral appliances when their sole use is appropriate. Using OAT is safe, effective and starts improving your sleep patterns from the first night you use it.

For more answers to your questions about oral appliance therapy, talk to the dental sleep medicine specialists at the Sacramento Dentistry Group. A free consultation to discuss your specific sleep apnea issue is available by requesting it via our website, calling us at 916-538-6900 or visiting our convenient office at 1105 E Street in downtown Sacramento. We look forward to helping you choose the best option in OATs!

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