Can Sleep Apnea Treatment Improve PTSD in Veterans?

I recently read an article on a study focusing on CPAP treatment and PTSD in veterans. In this study, researchers found that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms improved in veterans with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who were treated with CPAP therapy. After reading this article, my question is: will oral appliance therapy have the same results? I definitely think the chances are high!

The Study

There were 47 veterans recruited, with 40 completing the study. Of those participating, 20 had mild-to-moderate PTSD and 18 had severe-to-very severe PTSD. Researchers found that improvements in PTSD correlated with the duration of CPAP usage, and veterans with severe-to-very-severe PTSD had larger improvements in symptoms.

The only significant predictor of overall improvement in PTSD symptoms was the amount of time the veterans used the CPAP machine. The findings of this study indicate that treatment of OSA reduced PTSD severity and diminished frequency of nightmares. With prolonged CPAP use, veterans continued to experience an improvement in PTSD symptoms.

Oral Appliance Therapy

While there doesn’t seem to be an available study on the use of oral appliance therapy in veterans with PTSD and OSA, we can use CPAP therapy as an example. For veterans with PTSD symptoms, he/she might be CPAP non-compliant or just not like the treatment. The availability of oral appliance therapy for our patients allows us to successfully treat OSA, while also potentially improving PTSD symptoms in veterans–it’s worth the try!

Contact my office to learn more about oral appliance therapy and what we as dentists can do to help our patients.