Effects of a mandibular repositioner on obstructive sleep apnea

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2000 Sep;118(3):248-56. doi: 10.1067/mod.2000.104831.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a mandibular repositioner on airway, sleep, and respiratory variables in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Twenty-two patients selected for this study were confirmed with a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea based on initial nocturnal polysomnography. The patients were fitted with a mandibular repositioner designed to hold the mandible anteroinferiorly. Six months later, an outcome polysomnographic study was undertaken for each patient with the appliance in place. Lateral cephalometric radiographs in the upright position were also obtained before and after 6 months of treatment. The respiratory disturbance index decreased in 21 of the 22 patients with the appliance in place. The mean respiratory disturbance index of the 22 patients decreased significantly from 40.3 to 11.7 events per hour (P <.01). Some 59.1% of subjects were considered a treatment success with follow-up respiratory disturbance index < 10 events per hour. The mean minimum blood oxygen saturation level during sleep also improved significantly from 73.4% to 81.3% (P <. 01). The mandibular repositioner was constructed to position the mandible at 75% of the maximal mandibular advancement and with a 7 mm opening between the upper and lower incisors, and no aberrant effect on temporomandibular joint was noted. The retropalatal airway space increased and the cross-sectional area of the soft palate and the vertical distance of the hyoid bone to the mandibular plane decreased significantly. The tongue posture became significantly flatter. A significant linear correlation was found between the reduction in apnea index and specific craniofacial skeletal structures (length of anterior cranial base, mandibular plane angle, and upper to lower facial height ratios, P <.05). Subjects with a smaller reduction in apnea index tended to have shorter anterior cranial bases, steeper mandibular planes, and smaller upper to lower facial height ratios. We conclude that a mandibular repositioner may be an effective treatment alternative for obstructive sleep apnea and that a reduction in the frequency of apneic episodes is mainly attributed to the effects of the appliance on oropharyngeal structures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cephalometry
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Mandibular Advancement / instrumentation
  • Middle Aged
  • Occlusal Splints*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Snoring / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome