Ask the Sleep Team: What is Oral Appliance Therapy?
I am having a lot of trouble staying compliant with CPAP therapy. I just can’t stand the mask, the air blowing on my face keeps me awake, and I am embarrassed to wear it in front of my wife. I’ve heard about alternatives to CPAP therapy from a friend of mine. He uses an oral appliance. My question is: What is Oral Appliance Therapy? Can it help treat my sleep apnea in place of a CPAP machine?
Sleep Team’s Answer:
Oral appliance therapy, or OAT, involves wearing a removable appliance during sleep. This appliance, similar to a retainer or mouthguard, gently pushes the jaw forward which helps to prevent the airway from collapsing. Custom-made oral appliances are recommended as a first line of treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, and are recommended as “better than no treatment at all” for severe sleep apnea in cases where the patient cannot or will not use the CPAP machine. In addition, they can be used in combination with CPAP therapy to make it more tolerable for the patient.
In the short video below, Dr. Mark Burhenne explains how the devices work to treat sleep apnea: