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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by lapses in breathing or a significant reduction of oxygen during sleep. Approximately 25 million adults in the U.S. have OSA, which can cause them to stop breathing hundreds of times a night for a few seconds to more than a minute in some cases.1
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Untreated sleep apnea can reduce a person’s quality of life and lead to the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and depression. Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea. However, a person with OSA may also notice excessive sleepiness during the daytime, or someone may tell them that they stop breathing or “gasp” for air during sleep.
An oral appliance is a custom-fit device, similar to a mouth guard, that is worn during sleep. The appliance works by bringing the lower jaw forward, which helps maintain an open airway, improve breathing, and reduce snoring. Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea and snoring, and for those who cannot tolerate continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).2
A doctor will determine if you have sleep apnea after you complete an overnight sleep study at a sleep center or a home sleep apnea test. Once a diagnosis is made, an appropriate treatment option will be recommended, which may include an oral appliance, CPAP, or surgery.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, or you are interested in learning more about oral appliance therapy, please contact:
Kristin Dillow, RDH, MS, Clinical Sleep Director
- Amercian Academy of Sleep Medicine. Rising prevalence of sleep apnea in U.S. threatens public health. Accessed 15 December 2016. http://www.aasmnet.org/articles.aspx?id=5043
- Ramar K, et al. Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Snoring with Oral Appliance Therapy: An Update for 2015. J Dental Sleep Med 2015;2(3):71-125.