Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disease characterized by more than five episodes of obstructed respiratory airflow. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans are suffering from this disorder. As a result, various therapeutic options are currently available for disease treatment. Based on management guidelines, the use of mandibular advancement devices from an orthodontic laboratory is the first-line of treatment in OSA.
What Is a Mandibular Advancement Device?
Mandibular advancement devices are assistive tools that alter the position of the tongue and jaw to prevent the obstruction of air as it enters the lungs. Since malposition might occlude the airway, the use of MAD facilitates smooth air entry into the respiratory passageway.
How Is a Mandibular Advancement Device Used?
During the initial consultation with an orthodontist, the size of your oral cavity, teeth, tongue, and jaw are precisely measured. These measurements are then sent to an orthodontic laboratory wherein individualized mandibular advancement devices are created to fit snugly into your mouth. A screw serves as an adjustment knob until the right fit occurs in all sides of the mouth.
How Do I Know if the Device Works?
Polysomnography is the standard test to diagnose sleep apnea. Therefore, after the first fitting of the appliance, your orthodontist will advise you to wear it during polysomnography. If the treatment is effective, there will be no recorded episodes of decreased or absent breathing. In most cases, a significant improvement in mood and sleep quality is observed after the initial use of the device. However, if breathing problems are still observed, adjustments are done until the correct fit is achieved.
The Bottom Line
Untreated sleep apnea causes significant systemic changes due to chronic oxygen deprivation, which gradually damages your organs. Thus, it is crucial to use MMA at the earliest onset of symptoms.