What are mandibular advancement devices?
A mandibular advancement device (MAD) is a medically approved technique to help prevent snoring and mild to moderate forms of obstructive sleep apnoea. MADs are worn as mouthpieces when you sleep at night. They are similar to sports mouthguards, and are comfortable to wear if custom-made and properly fitted by your dentist. MADs are also known as mandibular advancement splints (MASs), anti-snoring devices and jaw advancers. Similar oral devices include night guards (for bruxism/teeth grinding) and retainers.
How do MADs work?
MADS work by ‘advancing’ the jaw (or mandible) forward when worn, which helps to open up your airway. As a result, they prevent the vibrations (or snoring) that may occur from a blocked or obstructed airway. With a fully open airway, you maximise the amount of air that you inhale with each breath. It’s as simple as that.
How do MADs improve sleep?
Since MADs help to keep your airway open, you won’t experience shallow breathing nor any potential oxygen shortages that may disrupt your sleep and affect your body’s vital organs.
With a well fitted MAD, the repositioning of your jaw keeps the jaw muscles and joints stabilised, and improves airflow as you breathe at night. MADs prevent your jaw from sliding back over your airway during sleep. For most people, positioning the jaw forward by 8-10 mm is the average distance required to ensure adequate airflow.
What are the health benefits of MADs?
Sleeping conditions, such as snoring and mild sleep apnoea, should not be ignored. If you experience either of these conditions, it may be an indication that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen.
A lack of oxygen affects your body’s vital organs such as the heart and brain. For example – to counteract the effects of less oxygen, your heart has to work harder to maintain your blood oxygen levels, instead of settling into a regular rhythm for the night. A person with severe sleep apnoea may experience hundreds of breath stoppage events each night.
In the long term, breathing problems during sleep can lead to heart arrhythmia, hypertension (high blood pressure), headaches, mild cognitive impairment (memory problems), stroke, arterial thickening, diabetes, obesity and cardio-vascular disease.
On the other hand, if you wear a MAD, your heart rate and blood pressure drop since your body gets all the oxygen it needs to relax and repair itself during sleep. You will spend more time in deep sleep (non-REM sleep) without waking up as a result of disrupted breathing. You can also help prevent the above health complications associated with snoring and mild sleep apnoea.
How do I get one?
Both mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and mandibular advancement splint (MASs) can be used to treat snoring and mild sleep apnoea. You can also benefit from a night guard (for bruxism) if you have teeth grinding issues.
While there are numerous over-the-counter “boil and bite” options available, none of them match the comfort and effectiveness of a custom-made and fitted oral device that comes with a proper dental assessment.
Get your life back with a MAD or MAS. For more information or to book a consultation, call our friendly staff at Leeming Dental Centre on 08 9310 3367.