Some doctors don't recommend oral sleep appliances to treat sleep apnea because historically, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) devices were used first and doctors aren't trained to do anything else than diagnose and treat with CPAP's, says Dr. Mark Levy, dentist in Columbus, Ohio.
Dr. Levy says that up to 75% of CPAP's aren't used after they're prescribed, so due to the low compliance level, he believes there needs to be a viable option. Statistically, oral sleep appliances are effective with mild to moderate sleep apnea and a few years back, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which is a physician's association, said that for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea, they should use an oral sleep appliance.
By definition, any dentist can prescribe an oral appliance which is not complicated to do but "complicated to do it right," says Dr. Levy, as there are over 100 different kinds from which to choose.
Dr. Levy had been doing TMJ treatments for over 15 years and determined early on that there had to be something in addition to solve the puzzle. He realized there was a strong relationship with patients who have TMJ and sleep apnea problems.
"As the population ages and gains weight, the odds of getting sleep apnea is skyrocketing," says Dr. Levy.