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What is an oral appliance?

An oral appliance is a small device, similar to an orthodontic retainer or an athletic mouthguard. It is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft throat tissues from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Some appliances hold the lower jaw forward during sleep while others have direct effect on tongue position.

Oral appliances relieve OSA and snoring by realigning the jaw and/or tongue in relation to the head. Although oral appliances do not work on everybody, a well-made, well-fitted appliance may reduce or eliminate snoring, and may significantly relieve symptoms of OSA.

Since the 1800’s, over 50 different oral appliances have been invented that have been used with varying degrees of effectiveness to treat snoring and Sleep Apnea. Appliances fall into two main categories; those which hold the tongue forward and those which reposition the lower jaw (and the attached tongue) forward during sleep. Sleep aids can be bought off the shelf at Pharmacies, such as Snoreban and Breathe Right strips, and others that are usually most effective are made by dentists and/or orthodontists. Some appliances are what are referred to as "boil and bite" appliances that are softened by placing in boiling water for a length of time, and then placed in the mouth and bitten into, and others like the KlearwayTM appliance are custom fit adjustable mandibular repositioning appliances that hold the lower jaw forward during sleep. There have been several research studies completed that have compared the effectiveness of various appliances and it has been shown that the adjustable appliances that reposition the lower jaw forward during sleep are more effective than non adjustable appliances.

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