Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a prevalent disorder, which consists of recurring partial or complete occlusion of the upper airway during sleep, resulting in oxyhemoglobin desaturation and arousal. The associated excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and nocturnal symptoms such as snoring, witnessed apneas, and sleep disruption can lead to emotional, marital, social, occupational, and road safety impairment. Oral appliance therapy involves the selection, fitting and use of a specially designed oral appliance that maintains an open, unobstructed airway in the throat when worn during sleep. Custom-made oral appliances are proven to be more effective than over-the-counter devices.
The literature provides evidence for the efficacy of this treatment modality, as well as guidance regarding how to manage side effects and comparison to CPAP and UPPP. It also suggests that this treatment can improve heart burn and acid reflux, depression, and other manifestations of sleep apnea. The guidelines, issued by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and published in the February 2006 issue of the journal SLEEP, indicate that patients can use oral appliances as therapy for mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea or when continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is not a viable treatment option.
Thickett EM, Hirani S, Williams A, Hodgkins J. A prospective evaluation assessing the effectiveness of the ‘Dynamax’ mandibular appliance in the management of obstructive sleep apnoea. Surgeon. Feb 2009;7(1):14-7
Ferguson KA, Cartwright R, Rogers R, Schmidt-Nowara W. Oral appliances for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea: a review. Sleep. Feb 1 2006;29(2):244-62