For those patients with sleep apnea who find that CPAP masks do not work for them, is too uncomfortable or burdensome, or are just looking for a different sleep apnea treatment option, there are a couple of main alternatives: surgery or dental appliances. For this review, I carefully researched the many options out there to find the best dental appliance for sleep apnea.
The standard treatment for sleep apnea (specifically obstructive sleep apnea [OSA]), is CPAP. CPAP involves the use of pressurized air that is produced by a CPAP machine and conducted through tubing to a CPAP mask that covers the nostrils and/or mouth. The pressurized air that is delivered through the airways acts to keep the airways from collapsing during sleep, allowing for the adequate flow of oxygen through the body.
Some patients may find CPAP to be intolerable—namely, having to wear a mask at night can be uncomfortable and cumbersome. Having to maintain a regular cleaning schedule for keeping CPAP equipment clean can also be a time-consuming burden. Furthermore, CPAP is most effective when used every night, which means that if you travel, you have to remember to take all of your necessary equipment (CPAP machine, tubing, mask, water chamber, cleaning supplies, etc.) with you.
Surgery is one common alternative treatment to CPAP for sleep apnea patients, but for reasons such as the level of invasiveness of the procedure, required time for recovery, or cost, surgery is not preferable for some patients.
This brings me to the second alternative option to CPAP: the sleep apnea dental (or also called oral) appliance. The sleep apnea oral appliance is generally recommended for patients with mild to moderate OSA. These appliances are customized to fit into your mouth the same way a mouth guard or retainer would. They act to support the jaw in such a way to help maintain an open airway and allow for the flow of air and oxygen.
Some main advantages of the sleep apnea oral appliance are:
- Simple and easy care
- Convenient for those who travel
- Easy to wear
Sleep apnea patients are encouraged to go to a dentist, who can write a prescription for an oral appliance. The dentist conducts fittings and obtains impressions of the teeth and sends the models to dental lab where the oral appliance is custom made. However, for those that need an appliance quick or “over-the-counter,” they can also be bought online. Here, I recommend the best dental appliance for sleep apnea that can be purchased over-the-counter.
My recommendation: the IntelliGuard Pro Mouthpiece Night guard
The IntelliGuard Pro Mouthpiece Adjustable Night Guard Bruxism Sleep Aid is my recommendation for an over-the-counter oral appliance for sleep apnea.
The key function of the IntelliGuard Pro is that it repositions the mouth to open the airway. It is excellent for many purposes:
- Sleep apnea
- Bruxism (teeth grinding and jaw clenching)
It is adjustable for a wide variety of mouth sizes, as it fits mouths that range from 2 to 5 inches wide and features 10 possible incremental, 1 millimeter adjustments. The measurements on the oral appliance are clear so that you can easily calibrate it to your preferred setting for the best fit.
Furthermore, it can “automold” to your bite, so it can form precisely to the shape of your mouth. All you have to do is boil it in water to make it moldable and bite down onto the mouthpiece to customize it to your bite. It should be noted, however, that the IntelliGuard Pro is not recommended for those with small mouths.
This new design also features precision lock technology. This means that the lock does not slip and is held in place at your preferred setting while you wear it at night.
Users with sleep apnea report positive feedback on the IntelliGuard Pro and it appears to do an excellent job with reducing sleep apnea symptoms. Specifically, they say that it:
- Helps them sleep much better
- No interrupted deep sleep
- Improves mood the following day
- Fits very well
- Does not fall out at night
- Stops snoring
- Is simple and inexpensive
- Takes some time to get used to but works well and is worth it
Pros and cons reported by customers
|Improves sleep apnea symptoms||Not recommended for those with a|
|Very adjustable for the best fit||Takes some time to get used to|
|Affordable||Some report that it is too large|
For those who are looking for an affordable, easy to obtain dental appliance for sleep apnea, the IntelliGuard Pro Mouthpiece Adjustable Night Guard Bruxism Sleep Aid is the best option for you. It is especially ideal for those who are looking for an alternative treatment to CPAP—for example, those who find CPAP masks uncomfortable or CPAP generally intolerable or those for whom surgery is not an option. Furthermore, it is an excellent and simple solution for sleep apnea patients who travel often and are looking for an easy way to sleep better at night without having to bring all of their CPAP equipment with them.
- Michigan Medicine. University of Michigan. Alternatives to CPAP. www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/brain-neurological-conditions/alternatives-cpap. Accessed February 2019.
- Michigan Medicine. University of Michigan. Non-surgical or dental alternatives to CPAP. www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/brain-neurological-conditions/non-surgical-or-dental-alternatives-cpap. Accessed February 2019.
- American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Oral appliance therapy. Updated August 7, 2015. Accessed February 2019.