Defining and Measuring Compliance With Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a proven, effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA); however, it can only be effective when it is used, which is why compliance – “the extent to which a patient’s behaviors match the prescriber’s recommendations”1 – is a necessary component of OAT.
Over the years, qualified dentists have individually used various metrics to define a patient’s compliance. Currently, there is no standardized definition for oral appliance therapy (OAT) compliance.
In developing a standardized definition for OAT compliance, the task force recognizes that compliance involves two components – the number of hours of sleep and the number of hours of oral appliance (OA) use. The prescriber recommendations for OAT are that patients sleep a minimum of 7 hours per night and wear the appliance for the duration of their sleep every night. Although it is not always possible for patients to get the recommended amount of sleep, OAs are most therapeutically effective when patients sleep 7 hours or more,2 so qualified dentists should educate patients on the importance of proper sleep duration and encourage patients to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. When treating patients with OSA, the qualified dentist becomes a frequent point of contact with the patient and plays an important role in encouraging habits that will increase the chances of OAT success.