Sleep Apnea Appliance
Worn only during sleep, an oral appliance fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
These Mandibular reposition devices (MRDs) hold the lower jaw in a forward position during sleep. In doing so, they:
- Create an anterior movement of the suprahyoid and genioglossal muscles. (The suprahyoid muscle widens the esophagus during swallowing and the genioglossus muscle depresses and protrudes the tongue.)
- Decreases the gravitational effect of the tongue
- Stretch the soft palate
- Stabilize the mandible to the hyoid bone. (The hyoid bone attaches to the muscles of the floor of the mouth and the tongue above; to the larynx below; and to the epiglottis and pharynx behind. This results in an increase in the lateral pharyngeal cross-sectional area of the upper airway to prevent snoring and obstructive apneas.)
- Clinical studies show that custom-made MRDs are effective in treating mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. They reduce symptoms that go with OSA too, like daytime sleepiness and fatigue. MRDs also help people with severe OSA who have not been able to adhere to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment.