Mandibular Advancement Device
A mandibular advancement device is a mouthpiece used to treat sleep apnea. Patients diagnosed with sleep apnea may have an airway that is either blocked or partially blocked that causes interrupted breathing while they sleep.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that is characterized by repeated breathing interruptions during sleep that may occur hundred of times each night as a result of structural abnormalities or brain malfunctions. With normal breathing, air passes through the nose and past the flexible structures, such as the soft palate, uvula and tongue, in the back of the throat. When awake, these muscles hold this airway open. When people without sleep apnea sleep the muscles of their throat relax and the airway stays open. People diagnosed with sleep apnea have a blockage in the upper airway and airflow which causes the oxygen levels to drop in both in the brain and the blood.
A mandibular advancement device is a custom fit device to open the airways and assist with breathing, similar to mouthpieces worn during sports, that patients wear while they sleep to hold their tongue in place and keep their jaw in a forward position. The mandibular advancement device attaches to both the upper and lower dental arches and is hinged to promote jaw movement. In many cases, this is an excellent alternative to surgery for treating sleep apnea.
Patients should speak with their doctor to see if a mandibular advancement device is an option for them.