The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than twelve million Americans are suffocating in their sleep due to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Most cases remain undiagnosed and contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and traffic accidents caused by drowsy driving. Dentistry serves a vital role in treating this under diagnosed epidemic. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliances as a first line therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and for patients with severe sleep apnea whose CPAP treatment has failed.
Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea can be treated with surgery, CPAP or BiPAP machines, or oral appliance therapy. Oral appliances are the least invasive treatment and the first choice of treatment for mild to moderate OSA. It involves the selection, fitting, and use of an appliance to hold the jaw forward and maintain an open airway in the throat during sleep.