Dental devices or oral appliances are the most effective option
for patients who have not been able to tolerate the conventional
use of CPAP. This is mostly advantageous for patients suffering
from mild to moderate sleep apnea.
Dental devices are made to open the airway so that a person can
breathe more easily at night. For many this is much easier to use
than an unwieldy CPAP machine, with hose and facial mask. Many patients
who have given up on CPAP have opted for
Nowadays many doctors are prescribing dental devices for their
patients. Patients using any of these devices should have a check
up regularly with their physician and dentist, to see if it is ultimately
working. The dental device might be needed to be adjusted or replaced
There are different types of dental devices available in the market
today. Some are FDA approved to treat only snoring and other are
used for the treatment of Sleep Apnea. But it should only be used
under the supervision of a dentist or orthodontist. Some of the
devices that are most commonly used are Mandibular Advancement Device
(MAD) which looks like a mouth guard that athletes wear.
This device forces the lower jaw forward and down slightly, which
keeps the airway open. Another such device is the Tongue Retraining
Device also known as TRD. This looks like a splint and is usually
used to hold the tongue in place and thereby keep the air passage
as open as possible.
Patients should note that these dental devices will be fitted by
dentists. It may take several weeks to get used to the device, but
most people find them comfortable to wear during the time of sleeping.
If the dental device causes pain, the patient should discuss that
with their dentist immediately.
Advantages of dental devices
1. They are easier to use and easier to maintain when compared
to the other complicated devices like CPAP.
2. The patient can continue with this treatment of sleep apnea for
a much longer time getting much more relief.
3. Improvement in sleep in many patients
4. It is noticed that there is extraordinary reduction in snoring
in many patients
5. Dental devices are small in size and as such can be conveniently
used even when a patient is traveling.
6. In certain cases of sleep apnea, it is considered to be much
more effective than surgery.
Disadvantages of dental devices
1. Despite the advantages in terms of usage, dental devices are
not yet as effective as CPAP in conquering sleep apnea.
2. The major disadvantage is that dental devices are effective only
when they are properly used by the patient. As such it has to be
under constant and regular physician supervision or through polysomnography.
3. This method is not very effective for patients suffering from
severe sleep apnea.
4. Dental devices may produce side effects like soreness; damage
to the jaw, teeth, and mouth; saliva build-up; nausea; permanent
change in the position of the jaw or teeth.
5. Permanent changes in the position of teeth and jaw occur in some
cases where patients use it on a long term basis.