How does oral appliance therapy work?
Oral appliance therapy is often the first line of treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Obstructive sleep apnea causes a blocked airway in sufferers. This results in the patient's breathing to stop dozens, if not hundreds, of times a night. As a result, the brain and other organs do not receive the oxygenated blood necessary for function, causing the brain to alert the patient to awaken.
As you can imagine, this prevents restful sleep for OSA sufferers. It also creates other major health conditions, including putting the heart under enormous strain. OSA can cause high blood pressure, strokes, obesity, diabetes, memory loss, and depression.
Oral appliance therapy works by gently moving the lower jaw forward and holding it in place. This opens the airway and allows for unobstructed breathing. OAT keeps the jaw from falling back and blocking the patient’s airway. Without it, the tongue and throat tissues fall back and block the patient’s airway.
Oral appliance therapy is effective and patients report getting used to the treatment after only a short time. Patients tolerate the OAT well, and it often works as an alternative treatment for patients who do not tolerate the CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine.