Being diagnosed with sleep apnea can often be a relief - there's a finally a clear reason for symptoms like tiredness, snoring, headaches, and depression. However, the range of sleep apnea treatments can be overwhelming. Which one is right for you? How do they work? For mild sleep apnea, a mandibular advancement device (MAD), can be used to increase airflow while you sleep by holding your jaw and tongue in place.
Read on for all the details on how the MAD works, and how it could help you. While it pays to be informed, it's always best to consult your doctor or dentist for advice before trying out a new treatment to ensure that it's the best option for your case.
How does an MAD work?
An MAD is a plastic appliance that sits over your top and bottom teeth, and should be worn while sleeping. It works by gently pushing the lower jaw and tongue forward, creating more room at the back of the mouth and throat. This reduces the narrowing of the airway, making it easier to breathe and preventing snoring. The device often works well for those who suffer from 'tongue-based' snoring, but might not be appropriate for more severe forms of sleep apnea.
Where can I get an MAD?
While you can purchase a pre-made MAD from specialist websites, this isn't the best option. Off the shelf devices are one size and might not be the right fit for you. A poorly fitting device can actually exacerbate the problem or cause other issues, especially as you'll be wearing it every night.
Visiting your dentist to have an MAD specially made is highly recommended. A custom-made device will fit perfectly to your mouth, giving the greatest chance of good results. You'll also avoid the risk of damage to your jaw from wearing a device that's not the right shape or size.
Who can fit an MAD?
Pre-made MADs are often made from a flexible plastic that is fitted over the teeth. These are easy to use but don't generally give the best fit. More expensive devices are made from a plastic which can be molded by you at home, so it is shaped according your teeth. This results in a better fit, but still isn't perfect. The highest quality MADs are specially made and fitted by a dentist to ensure that they are exactly right for your teeth. If possible, choose this option for the best results.