Are dental devices as effective as CPAP for sleep apnea?

This question was asked in Irvine, California on 12/26/2012.
Are sleep apnea dental devices as effective as CPAP therapy? Can they manage sleep apnea to the degree as CPAP and can they be a permanent solution?

Doctors Answers (3)

Joseph Lee, DDS, FICOI
Answered on: 1/2/2013 2

CPAP can be as effective for mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as CPAP therapy. For severe sleep apnea, an oral appliance may or may not be as effective. An oral appliance works by posturing the jaw in a more forward and downward position and in aiding the movement of the tongue forward as well, thus allowing a patent airway. There are other causes of air passage blockages such as enlarged and/or flaccid tissues. A proper evaluation is necessary to determine if an oral appliance would work for an individual's situation. However, for the most part, oral appliances are highly successful in treating mild and moderate OSA. For severe OSA, we aim to reduce the apneas at least 50%, which is better than no therapy for someone who is CPAP intoleratant. Or for some patients, a combination of an oral appliance with CPAP therapy can also be successful for severe OSA as it allows a lower titration for CPAP therapy since the airway is held open to some degree. Oral appliances can be a permanent, comfortable, and unobtrusive solution for many people.

Jeannine Louise Gingras, MD
Answered on: 1/2/2013 2

CPAP is a highly effective treatment for sleep apnea. That said, mild forms of apnea may respond to an oral airway patency device. You need to have a sleep specialist evaluate you individual situation.

Terry M. Himes, DO
Answered on: 12/27/2012

The first line of therapy is CPAP for treatment of sleep apnea. The second line of therapy, for the CPAP non-tolerant patient would be a dental device, or ENT surgery for Apnea Therapy.