Sleep Apnea Treatment with a Quality, Custom-fitted Dental Appliance
If your sleep physician has recommended oral appliance therapy as a suitable treatment option, our dentists at Elsternwick Sleep and Snore Clinic will be able to provide a dental appliance that is right for you. Our devices are made with safe materials that are approved for use in your mouth and clinically tested for effective treatment.
There are many types of dental appliances that are specifically designed to treat sleep apnea. It is helpful to know what you’re looking for when choosing such a device, making sure that it is safe, hygienic and comfortable for your personal use.
Our dentists will be able to advise you on the best available options, relative to your individual needs and budget. To make an informed decision, it pays to find out how the innovative devices work and their benefits.
Mandibular Advancement Splint/ Device (MAS/ MAD)
The Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS) or Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) is a sleep apnea device that is worn on the teeth during sleep like an orthodontic appliance. Also known as an anti-snoring device, the splint is used to prevent the soft tissue from collapsing into the airway and disrupting normal breathing patterns. Scientific evidence shows that the device is effective in treating mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and getting rid of snores.
The Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS) is a TGA-approved oral device. It is extremely safe and requires a painless and non-invasive treatment. No needles or surgery is required. The splint is customised to the unique shape and size of your mouth. There are other types of oral appliances including tongue retaining devices that are used in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea but mandibular advancement splints (MAS) are the most commonly used.
How does MAS/MAD work?
To understand how the device works to cure the snoring issue, you should have a basic understanding of why snoring occurs in the first place. When a person’s airway is partially blocked by the soft tissue and muscles surrounding the windpipe, it creates soft palate vibrations that cause the snoring.
The Mandibular Advancement Device typically consists of two splints that are worn over the upper and lower teeth. The two plates are connected in such a way that the device pushes the lower jaw forward relative to the upper jaw’s position. In most cases, this helps to open up the wearer’s airway while preventing the surrounding soft tissue from collapsing on it. The device typically repositions the user’s lower jaw (mandible) by about 8 to 10mm, which is generally enough to keep the airway open. Our dentists may make adjustments, where necessary, to ensure that the device fits snugly and comfortably in your mouth, and also to increase treatment efficacy.
As a result, the Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS) not only helps to eradicate the snoring, it significantly reduces the number of apnea events throughout the night as well as the severity of the condition.
What can I expect for the treatment?
During the initial consultation, you will have to undergo a thorough examination and discussion to assess your suitability as well as available treatment options and choice of device. Our dentists will study your medical and dental history, advise on potential side effects and post-treatment care. You may also be required to go for a radiological evaluation.
Subsequently, dental impressions (moulds) and a bite registration will be taken to serve as “blueprints” from which important dimensions and data may be retrieved for the purpose of fabricating the appliance. The stwo weeks to create, after which you would be asked to return for a second appointment. This is when the dentist will fit the appliance over your teeth, making adjustments to ensure optimum comfort and efficacy. Once the appliance is in position, the dentist will make sure everything is in good order before concluding the fitting session. During the same appointment, you will be given after care instructions to maintain cleanliness of the appliance.
Subsequent review appointments with your Elsternwick Sleep and Snore Clinic dentist may be necessary to determine if ongoing treatment objectives are being met – whether there is significant reduction in sleep apnea symptoms like snoring, daytime sleepiness etc. During these “titration” visits, the condition of your appliance will be assessed and adjusted for optimal effect and comfort. You may also be referred back to you sleep physician to undertake sleep studies, to track the performance of the device relative to your sleeping and breathing patterns.
Will I experience any pain or discomfort?
You may take a few weeks to get used to the splint in your mouth. If you experience some discomfort in the initial weeks, it may be due to the jaw muscles still adjusting to the forward inclining position that is responsible for the minor aches. This is usually felt in the first few hours of the morning, as the splint would have been working throughout the night to keep your airway unblocked by holding your lower jaw in place. The symptoms will usually disappear after a while as your mouth – more specifically your mandible (lower jaw) and tongue – gets accustomed to the dental device.
To slowly ease into the therapy, it is recommended that you put on the splint a couple of hours before going to bed. This way you will have some time to get used to the device in your mouth. In most cases, a properly fitted oral appliance should not cause prolonged discomfort, and the aches should disappear soon after the device is removed in the morning.
How would I know if the dental appliance is right for me?
Different people have different facial structures and airways. As such, it is difficult to determine whether an oral appliance will work for your particular situation. That is why the follow-up reviews and guidance of a professional sleep physician and dentist who specialises in sleep apnea oral appliances is central to the process – whether in terms of tracking the progress or making changes when set objectives are not being met.
Generally speaking, the Mandibular Advanced Splint (MAS) is not only easy to use but also more convenient as compared to a CPAP machine. They are often prescribed for patients suffering from mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea. However, there are certain factors that may inhibit the use of the oral appliance: Excessive levels of body fat, severe obesity, stiff jaw joints, poor tooth structure, etc.
Do not hesitate to discuss whatever concerns or issues you may have with your dentist or medical professional. They are in the best position to determine if the appliance or therapy is right for your situation.
Benefits of Mandibular Advancement Splints
Safe and effective
They are extremely safe and proven highly effective for eliminating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Using highly accurate impression moulds as administered by a qualified dentist, the Mandibular Advancement Splint is customised to the precise shape of your mouth as well as contours of your teeth. The fitting can be precise even if you have had previous dental restorative work done (eg. Crowns and bridges).
For precise fit and comfort, the splint is easily adjusted over time using a device known as a titration key. These periodic adjustments ensure that you won’t need to replace your device as often or prematurely.
Non-invasive and pain-free
A Mandibular Advancement Splint offers a great pain-free alternative to surgery. The straightforward procedure is no more invasive as the fitting of an athletic mouthguard or orthodontic plate.
Stop anytime you want
If for any reason you wish to discontinue the oral appliance therapy, it is completely reversible. Unlike surgery, the results are not permanent, so you can easily halt treatment and revert to a previous state.
The splint is a small and unobtrusive device that does not interfere with your lifestyle. Even with the Mandibular Advancement Splint in your mouth, you can still talk and drink, without anyone noticing that you are undergoing the therapy.
The cost of the device is a small price to pay for improved quality of life and many nights of restful sleep. It helps too that the dental device is competitively priced compared to other conservative treatments and much less expensive than surgery.