Mandibular Advancement Devices

The mandibular advancement device is a relatively new treatment (within the past 10 years or so) that is used to treat both excessive snoring and sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is described as small unnoticeable interruptions in breathing throughout the night that lead to patients having difficulty achieving restful sleep. Those who suffer from sleep apnea generally display the following symptoms; there is often daytime drowsiness and often those with sleep apnea find themselves falling asleep during various daytime activities. Furthermore, those who do not sleep well are often irritable and have extremely loud snoring reported by those who sleep near them. Mandibular devices frequently serve as alternatives to normal sleep apnea treatment and offer alternatives to those who use other treatments such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

The device works by pushing the lower jaw forward and opening up the airway. The device attaches to both the top the upper and lower jaw through retainer like devices, which have rubber straps between them connecting the two devices. One of the benefits of mandibular devices is that they are removable and only need to be worn during sleep. The device not only pulls the jaw forward but also pulls the tongue out of the way such that the airway is opened. There are various types of devices that can be accommodating to numerous mouth shapes, for those missing certain teeth and those with both over- and under-bites.

With proper use dental devices such as the mandibular advancement devices can provide the following benefits: reduction in sleep apnea and snoring. In many patients, both the volume and the frequency of snoring declines. Those suffering from sleep apnea generally tolerate these devices better than CPAP. Finally both those suffering from sleep apnea and snoring find the quality of their sleep improves.

The main concern of those with mandibular advancement devices is permanent change to the jaw that may end up effecting how one chews and then cause a misalignment of the teeth. Additionally some patients report dry lips that prevent them from continuing to use the device.  These side effects are generally mild and caused few patients to cease use of the devices. They did find that the bite in patients can be permanently altered, sometimes into uncomfortable positions. This possible side effect needs to be discussed with your dentist before starting any treatment with a mandibular advancement device, as each mouth and jaw react differently to the treatment. Therefore those who decide to wear mandibular advancement devices should have their teeth regularly checked by a dentist.

Mandibular advancement devices offer a relatively easy to use and pain free alternative to CPAP. If you suffer from moderate sleep apnea or snoring problems this is a treatment that should be brought up with your doctor.