Oral appliances, also called dental appliances or devices, may be an option for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends dental devices for patients with mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea who are not appropriate candidates for CPAP or who have not been helped by it. (CPAP should be used for patients with severe sleep apnea whenever possible.)
Several different dental devices are available. A trained dental professional such as a dentist or orthodontist should fit these devices. Devices include:
- Mandibular advancement device (MAD). This is the most widely used dental device for sleep apnea. It is similar in appearance to a sports mouth guard. MAD forces the lower jaw forward and down slightly, which keeps the airway open.
- Tongue retraining device (TRD). This is a splint that holds the tongue in place to keep the airway as open as possible.
Patients fitted with one of these devices should have a check-up early on to see if it is working; short-term success usually predicts long-term benefits. It may need to be adjusted or replaced periodically.
Benefits of Dental Devices. Dental devices seem to offer the following benefits:
Review Date: 06/11/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.