Dr. Aarthi Raghavan, DMD

Sleep Apnea

Mandibular Advancement Devices can help Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder that occurs when someone’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, usually due to a blocked airway. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive (OSA), central and mixed, with obstructive being the most common affecting around 22 million people in the US.

Why is it important to treat sleep apnea with a MAD?

When Obstructive Sleep Apnea is untreated, it causes people to stop breathing many times during the night. Fortunately, for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea, there are dental devices (MAD — mandibular advancement devices) that can help keep the airway open. A sleep specialist or doctor, in consultation with a dentist familiar with these devices, should be consulted to determine if one is right for you.

For many people, the most annoying by-product of sleep apnea is snoring. It’s important to note that there are many far more serious health risks associated with it. Studies have shown there is an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, and even shortened lifespans for people suffering from sleep apnea according to John Hopkins University.

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Why use a MAD instead
of a CPAP?

Around 50% percent of people who are advised to go on a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine stop using it one to three weeks after they start using this. This is because they don’t like sleeping with a mask on. Also cumbersome, is the fact that the mask is attached to a tube that is tethered to a noisy motor, usually placed on the bedside table. This severely restricts movement in the bed. It also rather defeats the purpose of wearing it in the first place as the noise and discomfort are likely to keep you awake, thus restricting your sleep.

In addition, bacteria can form around the mask and the noise from the motor is likely to annoy to both you and your partner. Also, if the pressurized air being supplied to you is inadequate, it has to be adjusted on the device, which is impossible to do when you are asleep.

Conversely, a MAD is like wearing a dental aligner. It simply fits into the mouth without any other attachments, allowing you to go to bed as normal.

How does a MAD work?

A mandibular advancement device works by preventing the tongue from blocking the throat. It can also advance the lower jaw forward, keeping the airway open during sleep. This increases the size of the upper airway, reducing the air resistance that leads to snoring. The steps to getting a MAD are simple:

1. Consult with your sleep specialist/doctor to order a sleep apnea test. This uses equipment to monitor your breathing and oxygen levels while you sleep. Sometimes a portable take-home kit can be used. Your doctor will decide if a MAD is right for you.

2. If they have decided that it is, a specific type of MAD will be prescribed. If you require a custom-made one, a mold is made of your mouth and the MAD is made so it will effectively allow the upper jaw to act as a fixed frame while the lower jaw is pushed forward.

3. The best MADs push the jaw forward incrementally, eventually finding the perfect balance between the back of the tongue and the soft tissue around it. It’s easy to know when a MAD is effective as the snoring stops.

Three Types of MADs

Custom Dental MADs
These are prescribed upon a physician’s referral and are custom-made by a dentist. These are the most effective of all three options and they allow a perfect fit that can be refined to provide immediate relief. They offer the best chance for a safe and silent night’s sleep.
Semi-Custom Devices
These require the dentist to make a custom mold of your teeth and are sent to a lab where the mold dimensions are used to create the device.

The Benefits of MADs


Having a custom fit MAD is by far the most comfortable option for treating sleep apnea. The precise fitting ensures that the tongue, jaw, and soft tissue are perfectly aligned to help keep the airways open.

Help achieve a good night’s sleep

Sleeping well is essential for our health. It’s when our bodies renew and reenergize. Sleep is essential for stress relief.

Eliminate snoring and night sweats

It’s no fun for a partner to feel like they're sleeping amongst a herd of cattle. It also puts tremendous strain on your throat and tonsils. Alleviating snoring means you are no longer struggling to get air into your body. The ease of breathing means a calmer and more restful sleep, which in turn, helps to stop night sweats.

Easy to clean

A MAD is easy to clean. Simply placing it in hot water will kill any bacteria

Are you ready to take the first step
towards a great smile?

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