The FDA has approved the use of “oral appliances” (sometimes known as mandibular advancement devices) as a first line treatment for mild sleep apnea, or as an alternative treatment in moderate to severe sleep apnea if CPAP is not tolerated. The premise is, that by altering the position of the lower jaw in relation to the upper jaw (either by opening or advancing the lower jaw), the soft tissue attached to the jaw will also be shifted, creating more space at the back of the throat and reducing airflow obstruction.
Many types of devices can be used, most of which look somewhat like a sports mouthguard. Essentially there are two main categories: those that must be custom fit by a dentist, or “boil and bite” devices that can be fitted quickly in the ENT office. Both types of devices are offered here at Chicago ENT and both have been shown to be effective. That said, we are always looking to improve our practice and achieve better outcomes, and to that effect we are currently conducting research to determine if there are any particular indications to use one device or another in certain situations. Using advanced assessment techniques including acoustic pharyngometry (where the caliber of the airway is revealed using a technology similar to sonar), we may be able to tell ahead of time whether an individual’s sleep apnea is likely respond to a certain kind of device.
Another extremely important part of our research is quality assessment, where each patient’s feedback is taken into consideration in helping us determine which devices are the best tolerated. A device that works 100% of the time, is worthless if it’s never used!
As newer oral appliance models are brought into production, our clinical research will continue to ensure that each and every one of our patients is matched with their best possible fit.
Visit www.snoringtreatmentchicago.com for more information on what we do here at ChicagoENT- an Advanced Center for Specialty Care