October 2020 | Reviewed by: Reeba Mathew, MD and Seema Khosla, MD
What is oral appliance therapy?
Oral appliance therapy is a treatment for snoring and sleep apnea. It involves wearing a removable oral appliance in your mouth when you sleep. The device fits much like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer.
An oral appliance prevents your airway from collapsing by either holding the tongue or supporting the jaw in a forward position. You must be custom fitted for an oral appliance for it to work properly. Over-the-counter devices are not recommended as a treatment option for snoring or sleep apnea.
The sleep team at an accredited sleep center will work with you to provide you with oral appliance therapy. First, a sleep doctor must diagnose you with sleep apnea using a sleep study or home sleep apnea test. Once you are diagnosed, a dentist can fit you with an oral appliance. Dentists that work with the sleep team have special education in treating sleep apnea.
The most effective treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy. Some patients prefer an oral appliance because it is small, portable and easy to use. Oral appliance therapy is most helpful in people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.