What is a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)?
If you’ve ever suffered from obstructive sleep apnea, temporomandibular joint disorders, or if you’ve had a general snoring problem, then you are probably familiar with a mandibular advancement device.
Also called mouth splints, a mandibular advancement device is one of the many snoring aids on the market. It is a dental aid that is usually prescribed by dentists to individuals that have a problem arising from the way their jaw is set up. These splits are designed to help said individuals improve the quality of their breathing, and is also set up to address any problems arising from bursitis
and other related issues.
How Does It Work?
A mandibular advancement device is basically a tool placed in the bottom part of your jaw that adjusts your bite in such a way that the lower jaw is a little bit more advanced than it normally is — hence the name. The splint achieves this by creating a slight, artificial underbite.
This slight adjustment results in a wide array of changes in the way your upper respiratory muscles function. You see, there’s a small part of your upper respiratory tract (URT) that naturally collapses as you breathe. When this part of the airway collapses more than it should, it becomes the main cause of sleep apnea, as well as the snoring issues associated with it.
With a mandibular advancement device, this part of your URT is tightened. That’s because the tongue—which is an important component in controlling this section of your URT—moves forward with the jaw. This pulls on the muscle that controls the closing the said part of the airway, and prevents it from collapsing regularly.
It also goes a long way towards helping this part of your URT from weakening back to its old, collapsible state. Since the tightening of the airway is a muscular act, the muscles strengthen the more you use the mandibular advancement device.
What Are The Cons?
There are a few downsides to using these stop snoring mouthpieces. The first is largely habitual by nature. It can be difficult to adjust to the everyday use of a splint, since it is an alien equipment in your mouth. It can easily feel strange, and if the dimensions of the splint are not suitable for your bite, you may actually experience some discomfort.
And if the cause of your sleep apnea is not the tightening of the respiratory tract, then a splint may not be the best solution.
Why It Works?
These splints are without a doubt one of the most effective ways to stop snoring, control sleep apnea and some jaw-related disorders. The effectiveness of these devices have been highlighted time and again in medical journals and scholarly publications throughout the years.
Not only do they address short-term issues with snoring and mild sleep apnea, they also address long-term issues related to the breathing disorder. And since the splint is easily removable and adjustable, the side-effects related to it are more manageable than other more drastic solutions.
And the advancements in the technology used to create these splints has also addressed some of the issues people face when using them. The splints being used today now allow for greater jaw mobility.
They are also becoming less and less obtrusive, thanks to the material that is now being used. So it is fairly safe to say that these mandibular advancement devices are worth looking into if you are suffering from sleep apnea or TMJ.