The effect of a modified functional appliance on obstructive sleep apnea

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 1988 Nov;94(5):384-92. doi: 10.1016/0889-5406(88)90127-8.


This study combined the use of cephalometrics and overnight polysomnographic monitoring to analyze the effects of a modified functional appliance on airway, sleep, and respiratory variables in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Twelve patients without overt anatomic or pathologic evidence of obstruction were selected on the basis of an initial single night of polysomnographic monitoring, which confirmed the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. The patients subsequently were fitted with a modified functional appliance designed to securely hold the mandible in an anterior-inferior position. A subsequent overnight polysomnographic study was obtained with each patient wearing the appliance. Lateral cephalometric radiographs with and without the appliance in place were also obtained. The mean vertical and horizontal changes in mandibular position while wearing the appliance were 8.49 mm and 2.28 mm, respectively. The findings indicate that 10 of the 12 patients had decreases in the rate of complete airway obstructions from a mean of 28.86 to 18.69 events per hour, and in the total apnea index from a mean of 53.81 to 35.99 events per hour. A reduction in the rate of obstructive events is attributed to the effect of the appliance on the oropharyngeal structures. Six cephalometric measurements are presented to provide a means of assessing effects of the appliance on the oropharynx and associated structures. The modified functional appliance is a conservative, successful treatment alternative that could benefit patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activator Appliances*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cephalometry
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthodontic Appliances, Removable*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy*