Oral devices (also called oral appliances or mandibular repositioning devices) 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 decreases the chance that tissue will collapse and narrow the airway when you breathe in. See a picture of a mandibular repositioning device (MRD).
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:1, 2
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.
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.
- Ferguson KA, et al. (2006). Oral appliances for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea: A review. Sleep, 29(2): 244–262.
- Malhotra A, White DP (2002). Obstructive sleep apnea. Lancet, 360(9328): 237–245.
- Hensley M, Ray C (2009). Sleep apnoea, search date May 2008. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Mark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine|
|Last Revised||June 17, 2011|
Last Revised: June 17, 2011
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