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Mild Sleep Apnea: Can Oral Appliance Replace CPAP Machine?

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A reader of†Scientific American Consumer Health's Lung Disorders White Paper†asks: "I have mild sleep†apnea and Iím having trouble getting used to my CPAP machine. Are oral appliances a reasonable alternative?" Here's our advice.

CPAP remains the most effective treatment, but if itís not tolerable, an oral appliance may be a reasonable alternative for some people with mild or moderate sleep apnea. However, a study published last June in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests oral appliances may be better for some symptoms than others.

Investigators randomly assigned 96 people with daytime sleepiness and snoring or mild to moderate sleep apnea to use a customized mandibular advancement device (an oral appliance that works by holding the lower jaw, or mandible, and the tongue forward during sleep) or a similar device that didnít move the jaw forward. Daytime sleepiness, quality of life and other variables including snoring, fatigue, insomnia and symptoms of restless legs syndrome were assessed before and after the start of the four-month study. All participants in both groups wore their devices on most nights. The custom-made adjustable oral appliance effectively reduced sleep apnea and snoring and, possibly, symptoms of restless legs syndrome but not daytime sleepiness or quality of life.

Oral appliances should only be considered by people with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Also, keep in mind that these findings apply only to customized adjustable devicesónot premade or fixed devices. Youíll need to work with your doctor or dentist to find the device that best meets your needs.†

Posted in Lung Disorders on April 5, 2016

Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer

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