Family Dentistry |4 min read

Do Oral Appliances Work for Sleep Apnea?

Irritated looking man holding a CPAP mask to illustrate that this article talks about treating sleep apnea with oral appliances

Are you one of the millions of Americans who are suffering from the effects of sleep apnea? Have you read about or tried treatment with a CPAP machine and decided it wasn’t for you?

There is a non-surgical, conservative option available: oral appliance therapy.

But do dental appliances work for sleep apnea?

What is sleep apnea?

The word “apnea” means “without breath” and is a good description of the sleep apnea process. It’s when people involuntarily stop breathing, repeatedly, while they sleep.

These interruptions in breathing can happen hundreds of times each night and can even last up to a minute!

Why do doctors say this is so dangerous for your health?

Sleep apnea deprives your body of the oxygen it needs to function. It produces side effects that can include:

  • Memory loss: Sleep helps consolidate memories. Are you finding it hard to remember things?
  • Mental confusion: Do you experience “brain fog,” find it hard to concentrate, or to problem solve?
  • Weak immune system: Lack of sleep weakens the body and the immune system. Do you find you aren’t able to easily fight off all those cold and flu bugs that are going around the office or that your kids bring home from school?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea affects more than 18 million Americans and often goes undiagnosed.

If sleep apnea continues untreated, it can contribute to dangerous health conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • And so much more

If you have sleep apnea, what can you do?

Finding the right treatment for sleep apnea.

There are several different types of sleep apnea, but the majority of sufferers have what’s known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA causes the throat muscles to relax too much while you’re sleeping and obstruct your normal breathing.

If you snore, it’s a sign you might be experiencing this kind of obstruction!

The most common therapy prescribed by doctors for OSA is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine that forces air into the throat, opening it up.  However, many people find the CPAP oxygen mask uncomfortable to wear or are disturbed by the noise the machine makes.

A growing number of people are turning to their dentists for an answer. Oral appliance therapy is becoming a popular treatment for sleep apnea.

An oral appliance and diagram of obstructed airway to show how oral appliances can be effective for sleep apnea treatment.

Dental appliances are often used to protect the teeth of people who grind their teeth at night or who suffer from TMJ disorder.

But do oral appliances work for sleep apnea treatment?

In a word, yes!

Here’s why:

An oral appliance gently moves the jaw forward, causing the airway to open and letting you breathe properly. It is made of a moldable, pliant polymer that is comfortable to wear and is custom-crafted to fit your mouth perfectly.

What are the perks of oral appliance therapy?

  • No uncomfortable mask
  • No noisy machine
  • Affordable, non-surgical treatment
  • Best of all, a good night’s sleep

Take two minutes  and see how oral appliance therapy changed Steve’s life!

Leave your sleep apnea treatment to an expert.

Sleep apnea is an increasingly common disorder with grave consequences. You need treatment from someone who knows what they’re doing!

Tacoma dentist Dr. Giesy is an expert in TMJ and sleep therapy, who is recognized as such by organizations such as:

We are one of the few offices in Washington that focuses and has expertise in TMJ disorders, sleep disorders, and craniofacial and headache pain. In fact, Dr. Giesy was one of the first dentists in the Pacific Northwest with two Board Certified Diplomat certifications in Craniofacial Pain (TMJ) and Dental Sleep Medicine.

Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea?

Dr. Giesy will be able to prescribe the right treatment for you.

Would you like to talk with Dr. Giesy about sleep apnea treatment? Contact or call our office, and we will be happy to set up an appointment at a time convenient for you.