Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) and Sleep Apnea

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Up to 70 million adults in the United States have some sort of sleep disorder, calculates the American Sleep Association. Of those people, around 25 million have sleep apnea, a condition that causes them to stop breathing for short periods while they sleep. Although the most common form of treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine, some people are able to get relief and a better night's sleep using a mandibular advancement device (MAD). Often, MADs are recommended to treat mild forms of the condition.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. While a person with the condition sleeps, the airway becomes blocked or collapses. When the airway is blocked, a person stops breathing. The pauses in breathing can last for just a few seconds or for several minutes, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute notes. The pauses also interfere with sleep, causing people to shift from a deep sleep to a lighter one. People with the condition often feel sleepy during the day because they aren't getting a deep, full night's rest. They usually snore and might wake up in the morning with a dry mouth or headache.

If you have a dry mouth, consult your dentist and consider adding a mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine. Colgate Total Daily Repair mouthwash restores natural calcium and repairs weakened enamel.

What a Mandibular Advancement Device Does

A MAD helps reduce the symptoms and effects of sleep apnea by moving the jaw into a forward position while you sleep. Pushing the lower jaw forward helps expand the airway, reducing the number of breathing pauses during sleep. One study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, compared the use of appliances, such as MADs, to the use of CPAPs to treat sleep apnea.

The study involved 126 adults, the majority of whom were male. The mean age for the patients was 49.5 years old. Some of the patients were assigned treatment with a CPAP, the others were assigned a MAD. The researchers conducting the study found that there was no statistically significant difference between the those who used the CPAP and those who used the MAD in terms of improvement of the sleep apnea. But they did find that patients who used the MAD were more likely to comply with it and that more than half of the patients preferred the MAD over the CPAP machine.

What Conditions a Mandibular Advancement Device Can Treat

Although sleep apnea is the condition most commonly associated with a MAD, that isn't the only sleep issue it can treat. The devices can also be helpful for patients who snore and for those who grind their teeth. It's worth noting that sleep apnea can often lead to bruxism, or grinding the teeth at night, so using a MAD can help kill two birds with one stone.

How to Get a Mandibular Advancement Device

Although you can find MADs for sale online or at your local drugstore, for the best fit and the best results, it's a good idea to see a dentist and have a device custom fit to your teeth and jaw. Your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and have the device created based on that mold. Usually, MADs are made from a durable, plastic-like material.

Potential Drawbacks of a Mandibular Advancement Device

Although numerous studies have shown that an MAD can be effective at treating sleep apnea, a review published in demonstrates the devices aren't without their drawbacks. One of the biggest drawbacks of using a MAD is the potential for developing arthritis in the temporal mandibular joint or experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder.

Working with a dentist and having a MAD created that fits your mouth may reduce the risk for jaw joint problems and pain. If you have sleep apnea, grind your teeth or snore regularly, schedule an appointment with your dentist today to learn more about how a MAD can help you finally get a good night's sleep.

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