Purpose: Persistent vegetative state is a form of wakefulness without awareness. This report
describes a dental appliance for the treatment of sleep breathing disorders in this
condition. The device can be easily inserted and removed by the patient’s family or nurse.
Materials and Methods: A 19-year-old woman had been in a persistent vegetative state
since having hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy because of cardiopulmonary arrest.
Although she exhibited a sleep-wake cycle and normal respiration, she had sleep apnea
and snoring, and produced snoring-like sounds even in an awake state. A three-piece
device with Herbst attachments was fabricated to treat the symptoms. Overnight sleep
studies were carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of the appliance. Results: The device
could be handled by the patient’s family. Snoring was satisfactorily reduced after insertion
of the device. Sleep apnea, desaturation, and minimal oxygen saturation were markedly
improved. Conclusion: If the family of a persistent vegetative state patient wishes to treat
sleep-disordered breathing, the appliance may be helpful as an alternative to relieve the
symptoms. The device could be applied for sleep apnea patients who experience
difficulties using other types of oral appliances. Int J Prosthodont 2003;16:350–354.