Oral appliances are highly effective in managing obstructive sleep apnea because they position the lower jaw and tongue in a more forward position during sleep. As the tongue moves forward, the airway opens up, making breathing easier.
According to Medicare guidelines, oral appliances are accepted as first-line treatment for mild and moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliances are also indicated for patients with severe sleep apnea if the patients cannot tolerate CPAP therapy or if CPAP therapy is contraindicated.
Oral appliances are small devices worn over the teeth much like an athletic mouthguard. The device moves the jaw slightly forward opening the airway and improving nighttime breathing. Oral appliances can be used alone or in conjunction with continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) devices.
Oral appliances are simple, unobtrusive, and quiet. Their small size, comfort and ease of maintenance often make them the first choice for many sleep apneic patients. Recent studies indicate that 91% of sleep apnea patients treated with an oral appliance were still using their appliances at the end of one year compared to CPAP therapy, where compliance after the same time period was less than 50%. Studies show that if patients are given a choice in treatment, the overwhelming majority choose an oral appliance over CPAP therapy.