How long will results from oral appliance therapy last?
As long as nothing else changes, oral appliance therapy will remain effective for as long as you use your oral appliance. Health and lifestyle changes might require further adjustment of your oral appliance, changing to a different appliance, or switching to CPAP for sleep apnea.
You can use oral appliance therapy to manage your sleep apnea over the long term. Long-term studies demonstrate that oral appliance therapy is as effective as CPAP after two years and 10 years of treatment.
However, changes in your health and lifestyle might affect the results of oral appliance therapy. Your appliance might become less effective if you:
- Gain weight
- Get less exercise
- Lose teeth
- Drink more alcohol
- Use prescription or recreational drugs
- Take up smoking or other habits that irritate your airway
Fat deposits on the neck and tongue narrow your airway, so if you gain weight, it can make it harder for your oral appliance to hold your airway open. A lack of exercise, in addition to contributing to weight gain, can cause your muscles to lose tone, which means they won’t support your airway as well. Your teeth help anchor your oral appliance, so losing teeth can make it less effective.
Lifestyle changes can also impact your oral appliance therapy. Drinking more alcohol or using drugs that relax your muscles can make it harder for your oral appliance to hold your airway open. In addition, habits that irritate your airway can cause swelling that makes your airway more likely to close.