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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Sleep Apnea: Oral Devices
Oral devices (also called oral appliances) are sometimes used to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). They push the tongue and jaw forward, which makes the airway larger and improves airflow. This also reduces the chance that tissue will collapse and narrow the airway when you breathe in. Examples include a mandibular repositioning device (MRD) or a tongue-retaining device.
Oral breathing devices are sometimes a reasonable alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Although oral breathing devices generally do not work as well as CPAP, they may be considered for people who:footnote 1
Choose a dentist or orthodontist who has experience fitting these devices. And go back to your dentist for regular check-ups to make sure the device still fits well.
Oral breathing devices can improve sleep quality and reduce daytime sleepiness.footnote 2 The use of oral devices reduced the episodes of abnormal breathing in about half of the people who used them.footnote 1
Possible problems with devices that fit inside the mouth include:
If you use an oral breathing device to treat sleep apnea, use it every night. Excess saliva in your mouth and mild discomfort should become less bothersome with regular use.
An oral breathing device used for a child with sleep apnea must be refitted periodically as the child grows.
People who use an oral device for sleep apnea may have a repeat sleep study to make sure it is working well.
Ferguson KA, et al. (2006). Oral appliances for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea: A review. Sleep, 29(2): 244–262.
Hensley M, Ray C (2009). Sleep apnoea, search date May 2008. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Current as of: July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineHasmeena Kathuria MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
Current as of: July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Hasmeena Kathuria MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
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