Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Sleep Apnea Health Center

Font Size

Mouth Devices Treat Sleep Apnea Well

Patient Compliance May Be Better Than With Air Masks
WebMD Health News

July 16, 2003 -- Untreated sleep apnea can result in dangerous daytime sleepiness, not to mention high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Though an effective treatment is available, called continuous positive air pressure (CPAP), roughly half of patients find the CPAP masks to be too uncomfortable to use.

Compliance seems to be higher among patients treated with fitted dental devices that are put in place before going to bed, but the evidence that these mouth guard-like appliances actually work has been lacking, and exactly how they work remains unclear. Now, new research from Australia shows them to be effective for treating even severe obstructive sleep apnea.

Improved Symptoms, Sleep Patterns

In a series of studies, Peter A. Cistulli, MD, PhD, and colleagues from the University of New South Wales assessed one of several oral devices used in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. In an investigation involving 80 patients, two-thirds had significant improvement in nighttime sleep patterns while using the devices. In their latest research, published in the July issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, they report that the device works by preventing the upper airway from collapsing during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea results from airway blockage, which is usually caused by the collapse of the soft tissue in the rear of the throat during sleep. Risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of 40.

People with the condition may stop breathing hundreds of times each night, and breathing can be interrupted for a minute or more. Loud snoring and daytime sleepiness are the most common immediate symptoms.

CPAP works by forcing air into the nose, through either a fitted mask or nose prongs, to maintain an open airway passage. The most effective dental devices work by pushing the lower jaw forward, thereby opening the air passage behind the tongue. Most are custom made by dentists and are adjusted periodically to find the most comfortable and effective position for the individual patient.

The latest Australian study involved 10 patients with obstructive sleep apnea who were closely observed while wearing the custom-fitted devices for one week. The average number of obstructive events among the patients was reduced from 25 per night without the dental appliances to less than five with them.

Today on WebMD

man wearing cpap
Know your myths from your facts.
man sleeping
What do they say about you?
man suffering from sleep apnea
You may need a sleep study.
exhausted and tired
Which type do you have?
Pet scan depression
Nighttime Heartburn
Fight Fatigue Sleepiness On The Road
Sleep Apnea Appliance
Foods That Help Or Harm Your Sleep
Sleep Apnea Clues
Insomnia 20 Tips For Better Sleep
Breus Sleep Apnea

WebMD Special Sections