An estimated 18 million Americans have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder caused by an obstructed airway due to the tongue and soft tissues falling into the back of the throat during sleep. This results in short episodes when breathing is stopped. Obstructive sleep apnea leads to excessive daytime sleepiness and has been associated with increased risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart problems, and death.
Although continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most effective treatment available for obstructive sleep apnea, new guidelines recommend the use of oral appliances for the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea in people who don't respond to CPAP or have difficulty sticking with the treatment.
CPAP involves wearing a mask attached to a machine that delivers air with increased pressure while you sleep. But researchers say many people find this treatment uncomfortable or intolerable, and an oral device may be an attractive treatment option.