What is oral appliance therapy (OAT)?
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) is the fastest-growing alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) for the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Oral appliances (AKA: Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)), Continuous Open Airway Therapy (COAT), snoring mouthpieces, or sleep apnea appliances) look similar to a sports mouthguard, but are adjustable, custom made appliances that are FDA approved for the treatment of snoring and OSA.
You receive these types of oral appliances through a dentist trained in sleep apnea. They are made to keep the mandible (lower jaw) in a forward position while asleep. This position helps to keep the soft tissues in the upper airway from vibrating or collapsing. It also allows you to breathe normally while you sleep.
How effective is oral appliance therapy?
Research over the past 15 years has shown that oral appliance therapy is an effective form of treatment. The greatest results are in patients that are within the mild to moderate OSA category (AHI <30).
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has approved oral appliances as a first-step treatment for mild to moderate OSA. It is also the best option for those with severe OSA who have refused, or are unable, to wear CPAP. In some cases, severe sufferers have found relief while wearing an oral appliance with their CPAP. This is Combination Therapy. Combination Therapy helps patients become more compliant with their CPAP because they are able to reduce the pressure on their CPAP making it much more comfortable to wear all night.
If you have severe OSA and are not wearing your CPAP as you were instructed, check with a Snoring Isn’t Sexy® dentist today to see if you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy or combination therapy.
Advantages of Oral Appliances
- Comfortable and easy to wear. Most appliances allow for a normal range of motion which makes it easier to open and close, talk, or take a drink of water while wearing the appliance.
- The small size of the appliances makes them very easy to travel with.
- Therapy is non-invasive and reversible.
Why do I have to see a dentist for an oral appliance?
The AASM states in their guidelines that oral appliances need to be fitted by a qualified dentist. These dentists trained in oral health, oral structures, dental occlusion, dental sleep medicine and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Dentists trained in oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea have additional training on the subject. They also understand the importance of having a proper diagnosis and follow up protocol. This is to ensure the efficacy of the treatment.
Before you are fitted with an oral appliance, your dentist makes sure your oral health and oral structures are healthy enough for therapy. If it is determined an oral appliance is the best treatment option for you, then you will have impressions taken of your teeth as well as a bite registration. This will determine how far forward your lower jaw will be while wearing the appliance. The mold is sent to a lab to make your appliance.
Once your appliance is ready your dentist will make sure it fits properly and make any necessary adjustments to it. It is important that you follow all the cleaning and care instructions for your device to ensure it’s longevity. Maintaining proper follow with your dentist is very important. They will make sure the device is working as it should be and is in good condition.
Isn’t it easier to just go to the drug store and get a snore guard?
NO! STOP! Don’t buy that boil and bite! That can be very dangerous to your health!
While it might be enticing to run down to the local drug store and grab one of the several boil and bites from the anti-snore aisle, you are potentially putting your health at risk by doing this. Many snorers and their bed partners do find some relief by going this route, but because the bed partners are finally able to sleep, they no longer notice that you are still not breathing! This is Silent Apnea. This side effect is extremely dangerous. Remember, you don’t have to snore to have sleep apnea!
Self-treating your snoring if you have OSA, Central Sleep Apnea or Combination Sleep Apnea can result in serious health consequences. It is important to have a sleep study to receive a proper diagnosis before starting any type of treatment. Once you’ve decided on a treatment, whether it be CPAP, surgery or an oral appliance it is imperative to have a follow-up study to ensure the efficacy of that treatment.
Ready to talk with a dentist to see if you are a candidate for an oral appliance?
Snoring Isn’t Sexy® has a network of trained dentists who are ready to help you get the treatment you need. You can either call 1-877-77APNEA or type in your ZIP code to find a dentist in your area that can help.