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Sleep Apnea and Dental and Orthodontic Devices

Written by Olivia Cerf, sshowalter.

Effect of Dental and Orthodontic Devices on Sleep Apnea

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, dental devices have shown better long-term control of sleep apnea when compared to uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), which is the standard surgical treatment. There are also few complications with a dental device, and they are easier to use than CPAP devices, resulting in better long-term compliance. Dental devices are most effective as a treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea.

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Mandibular Advancement Splint

Several dental devices are available for the treatment of sleep apnea. These devices may hold the tongue down, thrust it forward, or thrust the lower jaw forward.

Some devices used to treat sleep apnea are:

Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS)

The MAS maintains the lower jaw in a protruded position, which prevents collapse of the pharynx. It is less effective than the CPAP, but it is generally preferred for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea due to greater ease of use and the fact that there are fewer side effects.

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Tongue Retraining Device

Tongue-Retraining Device (TRD)

This device uses a slight negative pressure from air displacement to hold the tongue in place outside of the mouth, preventing it from falling back into the throat.

This device holds the tongue in place outside of the mouth to prevent it from falling back into the throat. It is recommended for patients who do not tolerate the CPAP machine. Based on polysomnograms of 36 users, the TRD was shown in one study to be 71% effective in reducing apnea events. Among the noncompliant participants, reasons for discontinuing use were discomfort or sensation of a foreign body, pain, excessive salivation, excessive mouth dryness, and aesthetic reasons.1

Read more details about Dental and Orthodontic Devices.

Types of Professionals That Would Be Involved with This Treatment

Your dentist would be the first stop to finding the right device for you. If you don't already have a dentist that you trust, the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine accredits dentists to prescribe and fit dental devices for sleep apnea. They have a directory of accredited dentists here:

To measure the effectiveness of your new device, you'll need a polysomnograph done by a sleep technician. A sleep lab near you can be found here:


1Lazard, Diane S. et al. “The Tongue-Retaining Device: Efficacy and Side Effects in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome,” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine 5, no 5 (2009): 431-438

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