Subjective efficacy of oral appliance design features in the management of obstructive sleep apnea: a systematic review


Discipline of Dental Public Health, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR.



The purpose of this study was to review available evidence on the efficacy of various oral appliances on subjectively perceived symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.


A search of 4 databases was carried out. Articles were initially selected based on their titles or abstracts. Full articles were then retrieved and further scrutinized according to predetermined criteria. Reference lists of selected articles were searched for any missed publications. The finally selected articles were methodologically evaluated.


Of an initial 1475 references, 14 studies were randomized controlled trials, which formed the basis of this review. Mandibular advancement devices (MADs) were compared with either inactive appliances (6 studies) or MADs with different design features (8 studies). In comparison with inactive appliances, the majority of studies showed improved subjective outcomes with MADs, suggesting that mandibular advancement is a crucial design feature of therapy for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.


There is no 1 MAD design that most effectively influences subjectively perceived treatment efficacy, but efficacy depends on many factors including materials and method used for fabrication, type of MAD (monoblock or Twin-block), and the degree of protrusion (sagittal and vertical). This review highlights the absence of universally agreed subjective assessment tools and health-related quality of life outcomes in the literature today. Future trials of MAD designs need to assess subjective efficacy with agreed standardized tools and health-related quality of life measures to guide clinical practicitioners about which design might be most effective in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome with oral appliances.

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2010 Nov;138(5):559-76.

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