Comparison of adjustable and fixed oral appliances for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea

J Clin Sleep Med. 2011 Oct 15;7(5):439-45. doi: 10.5664/JCSM.1300.


Study objectives: To compare the efficacy of adjustable and fixed oral appliances for the treatment of OSA.

Methods: Retrospective review of consecutive patients with OSA treated with either adjustable or fixed oral appliances. Polysomnography was conducted before and during therapy. Effective treatment was defined as an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) < 5 events/h or < 10 events/h with resolution of sleepiness (Epworth < 10). We compared efficacy rates between fixed and adjustable appliances and sought to identify factors associated with greater success.

Results: We included 805 patients, 602 (74.8%) treated with an adjustable and 203 (25.2%) a fixed oral appliances. Among the cohort, 86.4% were men; mean age was 41.3 ± 9.2 years. Mean AHI was 30.7 ± 25.6, with 34.1% having mild (AHI 5-14.9), 29.2% moderate (AHI 15-29.9), and 36.8% severe (AHI ≥ 30) OSA. Successful therapy was significantly more common with adjustable appliances. Obstructive events were reduced to < 5/h in 56.8% with adjustable compared to 47.0% with fixed appliances (p = 0.02). Similarly, a reduction of events to < 10 with resolution of sleepiness occurred in 66.4% with adjustable appliances versus 44.9% with fixed appliances (p < 0.001). For both devices, success was more common in younger patients, with lower BMI and less severe disease.

Conclusions: Adjustable devices produced greater reductions in obstructive events and were more likely to provide successful therapy, especially in moderate-severe OSA. Fixed appliances were effective in mild disease, but were less successful in those with higher AHIs. Given these findings, the baseline AHI should be considered when selecting the type of oral appliance.

Keywords: Oral appliance; efficacy; mandibular advancement device; obstructive sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mandibular Advancement
  • Orthodontic Appliances*
  • Orthodontic Appliances, Removable
  • Polysomnography / methods
  • Polysomnography / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / rehabilitation*
  • Treatment Outcome