Oral Appliance Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Dr. David Upton, UW Health Ear, Nose and ThroatObstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an increasingly common disease affecting two to four percent of middle-aged adults in the United States. OSA happens when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in, and you can't get an adequate breath in. This can lower the level of oxygen in your blood.


Given that with OSA the body is being denied oxygen, if left untreated, the disease contributes to impaired cognition, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke. New research suggests the OSA may also lead to dementia as one ages.


David Upton, MD, FACS, UW Health otolaryngologist and clinical assistant professor at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health offers an alternative treatment option for sleep apnea: An oral appliance.


By using the appliance during sleep, your jawbone is realigned in a more forward position, which opens the airway. Traditional therapy for OSA involves using a machine that provides continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Using this machine can be difficult given the discomfort of the mask and high airway pressures. As a result, many patients opt to use an oral appliance as a first-line alternative to CPAP for treatment of their disease.


"Oral appliance therapy is a well-validated, successful treatment alternative for patients with mild to moderate OSA. Improved patient compliance in using the device given the portability and convenience of the tool has shown an increase in the number of patients seeking oral appliance therapy for their sleep apnea," Dr. Upton says.


To tailor the oral appliance to each patient, dental impressions are taken in the ENT clinic. Creating the appliance can be accomplished in as few as two to three visits. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Upton, please call (608) 287-2500.