As an alternative to CPAP therapy, or in conjunction with CPAP therapy, oral appliance therapy has been proven to be an effective treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy is simple, unobtrusive, quiet, and cost-effective.
If indicated, the sleep specialist will write the prescription for oral appliance therapy and then refer the patient to a qualified dentist trained in oral appliance therapy. The treating dentist then custom fabricates and fits the patient with the oral appliance and provides follow-up evaluations. The sleep specialist and treating dentist work together as an integrated team to resolve the sleep apnea and optimize the therapeutic response.
The oral appliance, which is custom made for the patient by a trained dentist, is a small device worn over the teeth much like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer. Worn during the night, it repositions the jaw in a forward position to prevent the upper airway from collapsing during sleep.
One of the most important steps to achieving successful outcomes is determining the optimal degree of lower jaw protrusion at which to set the oral appliance. Much like the process by which optimal settings are determined on a CPAP device, the oral appliance is adjusted by trial and error throughout the titration study to determine the optimal degree of lower jaw advancement to alleviate the sleep apnea. The diagnostic polysomnography serves to verify whether the oral appliance is effective in treating the sleep apnea.
o, only a physician can write the prescription for oral appliance therapy. Moreover, only a qualified dentist can fabricate and fit the oral appliance. The sleep specialist and dentist must work closely together to provide the patient with optimal care.