A Dental Device (also known as oral appliance) is a device that a patient will wear for a certain period of time to treat sleep apnea.
A sleep apnea dental device is typically molded to fit a particular patient's teeth by a dentist specializing in treating sleep disorders. Devices usually function by moving the lower jaw forward in order to open up the airway during sleep, thus promoting better breathing and less apneas. Some oral devices restrict tongue movement in order to prevent the tongue from blocking the airway.
Dental devices have a mixed success rate in treating sleep apnea. They are generally more successful at treating mild and moderate sleep apnea and less effective at treating severe sleep apnea. They may bring the level of apnea a patient experiences down significantly but fail to completely eliminate it. Their popularity stems largely from the fact that most patients find them more comfortable than CPAP Machines (the most common sleep apnea treatment). Because they are perceived as comfortable, patients are more likely to wear them consistently and comply with treatment.