What is Oral Appliance Therapy?

Your oral appliance is a small, sleek orthotic that you wear in your mouth each time you sleep. It looks similar to a mouthguard, but it serves a different purpose entirely. Instead of only protecting your teeth, this is a custom oral appliance that repositions your jaw to make more room in your airway for oxygen to get through.

How Oral Appliance Therapy Works

Oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea requires nothing except you cleaning and wearing it. It doesn’t need electricity or distilled water to work, so you can feel free to take your oral appliance on your next camping trip, pop it in on your next long plane ride, or fall asleep on the couch with it in. Simply rinse your oral appliance after each time you wear it, and that’s all there is to it.

But how does an oral appliance work to treat obstructive sleep apnea? You have obstructive sleep apnea because there is a blockage in your airway that doesn’t allow oxygen to pass through. In many cases, this blockage is your tongue. When your tongue relaxes during sleep, it falls back to partially or fully obstruct your airway. It’s not the same for everyone, but some reasons why this happens could be a naturally small airway, a malocclusion, sleep aids, or repeated alcohol, nicotine, and drug use.

Whatever the reason, oral appliance therapy repositions your lower jaw forward to make more room in your airway. You might be thinking, “what about TMJ disorder?” Developing TMJ disorder is uncommon with oral appliance therapy, especially when you choose a neuromuscular dentist like Dr. Raman. He treats TMJ disorder too.

Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy has many benefits.

  • Comfortable to wear.
  • Easy to carry with you.
  • Easy to travel with on a plane.
  • You aren’t restricted to only places with electricity and distilled water.
  • Easy to clean.
  • No noise when you use it.
  • Stops snoring.
  • Your partner’s sleep won’t be disturbed.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Can be used as a stand-in occasionally for severe sleep apnea (say, if you’re camping).
  • Effective sleep apnea treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

How Effective is Oral Appliance Therapy?

Oral appliance therapy is effective at treating mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. In clinical studies, it’s not as effective as a CPAP machine. However, in real-life applications, it’s just as effective, if not more, because it’s easier to comply with. The compliance rate for a CPAP machine is only about 40%, while the compliance rate for an oral appliance is 80%.

Many patients who were prescribed a CPAP machine don’t wear it and continue to struggle with obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Raman has helped countless patients switch to an oral appliance and finally get the sound sleep they’ve been longing for.

Is Oral Appliance Therapy Right for Me?

It’s natural to wonder if this comfortable and silent sleep treatment is as good as it sounds and if it’ll really work for you. The truth is that oral appliance therapy won’t work for everyone. Ask yourself these questions to get an idea of whether oral appliance therapy will work for you.

  • Do you have obstructive sleep apnea?
    • Yes: An oral appliance may work for you.
    • No: If you have central or complex sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy won’t.
  • Do you have severe sleep apnea?
    • Yes: An oral appliance is not your best choice but may work as a stand-in on occasion.
    • No: Oral appliance therapy could work for you if you have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Can you tolerate a CPAP?
    • Yes: If your CPAP works well for you and your partner and you use it each time you sleep, feel free to stick with your CPAP.
    • No: If your CPAP keeps you or your partner from sleeping or if it’s causing adverse side effects like bloating or a dry mouth, try switching to an oral appliance.
  • Do you travel frequently?
    • Yes: Give oral appliance therapy a try. It’s easy to bring with you anywhere.
    • No: You don’t have to travel frequently to enjoy the benefits of a simple and effective sleep treatment. Oral appliance therapy can work for you.
  • Is cost an obstacle to your sleep apnea treatment?
    • Yes: Oral appliance therapy might work for you. It’s cost-effective and long-lasting.
    • No: If cost isn’t an obstacle, choose the sleep treatment that’ll best treat your type and severity of sleep apnea and your lifestyle.

If you’re unsure or would like more information, set up a consultation with Kansas City sleep dentist, Dr. Prabu Raman.

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Kansas City

Are you looking for oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea? Call to make an appointment with Dr. Raman at (816) 436-4422. Or, use our online appointment scheduler. Someone will get in touch with you shortly.