If you are considering oral appliance treatment for sleep apnea, you might have noticed that there are some ready-made appliances that might be much less expensive than custom-made appliances. These might be tempting, but a new study shows that they are ineffective: only custom sleep appliances are actually effective for sleep apnea.
For this study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, individuals with mild sleep apnea participated in a crossover trial. They were randomly assigned to use either a custom or ready-made sleep appliance for three months. Then they had two weeks without treatment before they were treated with the other type of appliance for three months. A total of 25 patients completed both parts of the trial.
Researchers then looked at the data from the two different devices. They found that the custom-made appliances were 96% effective at achieving some level of response, compared to only 64% effectiveness in ready-made appliance. The custom-made appliance achieved complete relief for 64% of patients, but ready-made appliances only got complete relief for 24% of patients.
Another caution to individuals that are trying non-custom appliances is that although the presence of snoring may decrease, it can actually create a higher level of apnea. When a dentist is involved and does objective testing, they are able to prove effectiveness, and not hurt the patient.
People were much more likely to use their custom appliance every night, and they used it for more hours every night. In the end, only custom-made appliances improved the quality of life for patients.
Why Waste Money on Ineffective Treatments?
A ready-made appliance is only a bargain if it actually works. If they don’t work, then spending less money on them doesn’t help you save money: it will actually cost you money in the long run because you pay for the ready-made appliance first, then pay again for the custom treatment when the ready-made doesn’t work.
You might think that having a two-thirds chance getting some benefit is a reasonable gamble on the lower treatment, but when we look at the main effect that matters–quality of life–it’s clear that there is no point in getting the ready-made device.
We can also see that compliance is a problem for ready-made devices. People tend to use these devices less because they are uncomfortable and ineffective: there’s no point in dealing with the discomfort if you’re not getting some benefit. If you are considering an oral appliance because you’re not using your CPAP enough, a ready-made appliance would not be a good solution. Nor would a ready-made appliance be good if the problem is snoring. Not using the appliance would mean that many nights you would end up snoring because you didn’t use the appliance or because you only used it for part of the night.
Effective Custom Oral Appliances
If you are looking for an effective sleep apnea treatment in Omaha, we offer custom oral appliances. These are a proven solution to sleep apnea and its symptoms, including snoring and daytime sleepiness. They are comfortable and easy to wear, making them an ideal alternative to CPAP.