Tongue Measure Helps Sleep Apnea Appliance

BOSTON, June 10 (UPI) — Measuring the tongue might help dentists supply an oral appliance that successfully treats sleep apnea, U.S. researchers found.

Lead author Whitney Mostafiz of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine said the oral appliance — a mandibular advancement splint — has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea if anatomical factors such as craiofacialsaize, upper airway soft tissue volume, and the balance between them are taken into account.

Patients who responded to treatment had a larger tongue volume for a given oral cavity size and the researchers suggest determining this ratio may help predict treatment success.

“While this study re-affirms the difficulties in predicting obstructive sleep apnea treatment response to mandibular advancement splints, responders seem to have a larger tongue volume for a given oral cavity site, suggesting that mandibular advancement splints may help correct anatomical imbalances,” Mostafiz said in a statement.

Mostafiz and colleagues fitted 49 obstructive sleep apnea patients with mild to severe sleep apnea for a custom two-piece custom appliance to be worn during sleep. Twenty-four responded to the treatment, demonstrating an apnea-hypopnea index reduction of 50 percent or more.

The study received a graduate student research award at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine in San Antonio.

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