Efficacy of oral myofunctional therapy in middle-aged to elderly patients with obstructive sleep apnoea treated with continuous positive airway pressure

J Oral Rehabil. 2021 Feb;48(2):176-182. doi: 10.1111/joor.13119. Epub 2020 Nov 6.


Background: Oral myofunctional therapy (MFT) is an effective treatment for mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in middle-aged patients. However, few reports have described its use in elderly patients with moderate and severe OSA. Moreover, no studies have examined the relationship between changes in tongue pressure with MFT and the severity of OSA.

Objective: We conducted an interventional study using MFT to evaluate the effect of MFT on middle-to-senior-aged patients with moderate or severe OSA and compared changes in apnoea-hypopnea index (AHI) and tongue pressure.

Methods: Thirty-two OSA patients (≥45 years) treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) were included. MFT was performed in parallel with CPAP. Three days after CPAP discontinuation, polysomnographies were performed and tongue pressures were measured before and after MFT.

Results: Patients were 69.3 ± 1.5 years old. After 6 months of MFT, AHI decreased significantly from 34.7 to 29.0/h (P = .03), while tongue pressure significantly increased from 35.9 to 45.6 kPa (P < .01). Seven patients (22%), including 6 of the 12 patients with moderate OSA (50%), experienced successful CPAP discontinuation.

Conclusions: MFT can be a useful intervention even among middle-aged to elderly patients with OSA. Increased tongue pressure may have contributed to the AHI improvement. Clinical trials: Trial registration at www.umin.ac.jp UMIN000027547.

Keywords: continuous positive airway pressure; middle-to-senior; myofunctional therapy; polysomnography; sleep apnoea; tongue pressure.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Myofunctional Therapy
  • Pressure
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / therapy
  • Tongue