An oral appliance is a device worn in the mouth to help treat disorders such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, sleep apnea, bruxism, and other facial pain conditions. A noninvasive treatment option, appliances can help alleviate pain, improve jaw function, enhance sleep quality, and address related symptoms.
How They Work
Oral appliances can be designed to reposition the jaw, reduce stress on the jaw joint, stabilize the bite, or keep the airway open, according to the patient’s needs.
These devices are typically part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may include physical therapy, medication, or other interventions. Because oral appliances are customized to fit the individual, patients who are part of a supportive treatment environment generally use them consistently as prescribed, leading to positive results.
Types of Appliances
The type of oral appliance prescribed varies based on the patient’s specific need or condition. Oral appliances may be covered by health insurance, depending on the individual’s diagnosis and details of their plan.
Oral Airway Devices (OADs)
OADs are used to treat sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea. These devices are an effective way of relieving obstruction of the airway due to tongue prolapse. Benefits include:
- Improved sleep quality
- Reduction of snoring
- Decrease in daytime fatigue
- Long-term health benefits of improved sleep
Sometimes called “orthotic devices,” oral splints are one of the best ways of reduce stress on the jaw joint, which can cause TMJ disorder. Once the joint is de-stressed, the muscles and ligaments can relax, providing pain relief. Oral splints are also often essential for rebalancing and aligning the bite in the presence of advanced joint disease. Benefits include:
- Pain relief
- Reduced jaw muscle strain
- Improved jaw function
- Potential reduction in headache
- Prevention of tooth damage
Success in using an oral device depends on having the right appliance and consistent use. Our doctors will work with you to review the benefits and risks of each option so we can create the right device for your specific needs.
Facial Pain Specialist providers are board certified in Orofacial Pain treatment and have extensive experience using oral devices to treat TMJ disorder, bruxism, and sleep apnea. As part of our comprehensive, evidence-based approach, our treatment programs often incorporate other therapies such as medication management, therapeutic injections, and lifestyle recommendations. Because many orofacial conditions can coexist, influencing and exacerbating each other, we provide a comprehensive, holistic approach that can lead to a more successful recovery.