OPAP or Oral Positive Airway Pressure involves the treatment of
Obstructive Sleep Apnea from those with mild to severe sleep apnea.
The OPAP involves the use of a specific dental appliance that facilitates
the air to move freely between the mouth and the lungs. The OPAP
device is preferred for those patients who do not find themselves
comfortable using CPAP.
Most of the patients find the mask that is used as a part of CPAP
therapy as inconvenient or unwieldy during sleep. Thus non-compliance
is high with CPAP users. They tend to feel claustrophobic, suffer
from headache, sinusitis or even sometimes eye irritation. In such
cases, the Oral Positive Airway Pressure device comes in as a rescue
and is considered to be a very effective alternative.
What is this appliance?
This OPAP device used as a part of this therapy is a dental device.
A very important observation from all patients suffering from sleep
apnea is that, there is a problem in the passage of air from face
to the lungs. This blockage primarily in the throat disrupts the
airflow, which in turn results in sleep apnea.
The OPAP device is made in such a way that it adjusts and opens
the jaw and enables the smooth flow of air in the passage. This
helps the patient to breathe smoothly while sleeping. And unlike
a mask, the OPAP is just inserted into the mouth. This also helps
in correcting any deformities of the mandible. The OPAP can also
be connected to a CPAP or BiPAP machine.
Before the dentist or orthodontist fits this device on the patient,
they do an examination to find whether the patient could adapt to
such a device or not. This could involve a Sonography too. Each
device is unique for each patient. As such, the dentist takes an
impression of the mandible and then prepares the device. It is important
to note that the OPAP can also be used by patients who do not have
Since the teeth impressions are unique for each patient, the device
made to fit comfortably to prevent non-compliance. Once the patient
is using the OPAP, the physician can also do a polysomnography to
check the results of the device in treating their sleep apnea.
Advantages of OPAP
1. It is much more comfortable than many other devices.
2. It helps in preventing claustrophobia and relieves the patient
from headaches or sinuses.
3. It does not require any additional help to use this device. It
can be used by patients themselves.
Disadvantages of OPAP
1. Since the mouth remains open while sleeping this can result
in drying of the mouth
2. An open mouth can also lead to too much secretion of saliva.
3. If a CPAP device is connected along with this, then it be uncomfortable
for the patient while breathing out air.
The disadvantages of OPAP can be easily addressed. The dry mouth
problem can be reduced using a humidifier. The saliva problem can
be reduced with regular use of the device over time. The breathing
trouble can be reduced by using the Bi Positive Airway Pressure
Device or BiPAP.