Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes people to stop breathing for brief periods during sleep. People who have sleep apnea often don’t know they have the condition because it usually doesn’t affect their daytime activities as a sleep provider. As the number of people diagnosed with this condition rises, so does the number of oral devices created to help patients manage their condition. Here we’ll discuss types of oral devices for sleep apnea.
These devices come in different shapes and sizes, so take some time to learn about your options before committing to one. Some of these devices may be better for you than others, but always consult your doctor before deciding what device will work best for you. Similar to other medical devices, each type has its benefits and drawbacks in enhancing sleep.
1. Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD)
MADs are used to move the lower jaw forward. This movement can help prevent the tongue from collapsing and blocking the airway during sleep. The device also keeps the tongue from falling back and blocking the airway during sleep. A dentist or physician can prescribe mADs. MADs are often used to treat people with severe obstructive sleep apnea, a type of sleep disorder that causes breathing problems during sleep. People who have severe obstructive sleep apnea may experience episodes of not breathing for up to 20 seconds at a time while sleeping.
2. Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS)
These devices are often used to treat snoring. They usually come in three different sizes, each with another purpose. The first is for people who snore loudly and can’t get to sleep unless they are lying on their side. The second is designed for snore people but can sleep on their back or stomach. The third is for people who sleep on their sides and snore loudly.
Each type of splint comes in different sizes and features, so discuss which one may work best for you with your doctor. They are designed to correct the forward jaw position. This is done by moving the lower jaw forward and down, which causes the tongue to move from a resting place in the back of the throat to an elevated position in the front of the throat. If a person is diagnosed with sleep apnea, they may be prescribed this device because it allows them to breathe through their mouth during sleep without having their airway blocked.
3. Mandibular Repositioning Appliances (MRA)
Mandibular Repositioning Appliances (MRA) are used to reposition the jaw during sleep. This can alleviate snoring and prevent a person from stopping breathing while asleep. This is done by attaching a mouthpiece to the back of the patient’s head and then applying a very tight strap around the patient’s head and neck. The strap prevents the jaw from falling forward, which keeps the airway open and allows for a deeper sleep. The device is worn on the upper jaw and exerts gentle pressure on the soft tissues to help keep airways open while the patient sleeps.
4. Tongue Retaining Devices (TRD)
TRDs are used to hold the tongue in a particular position. This position helps keep the airway clear during sleep, reducing snoring and stopping air from getting trapped in the throat. The most common TRD is a jaw strap that holds the tongue behind the teeth and down toward the back of the throat.
Other types of TRDs include devices that maintain a pillow or weight to keep the tongue raised or devices that don’t have any strap or mouthpiece but instead have a bar that rests on top of your teeth and keeps them pushed out. This device is often used to treat snoring, which happens when you breathe through your mouth and not your nose. Tongue retaining devices work by keeping the tongue from falling back into the throat, where it can block breathing passages.
If you are looking for a sleep apnea treatment, you can probably get it online. But if you want to try one before purchasing a CPAP machine, you should first try an oral device. These devices are proven to work and are less expensive than CPAP machines. If these oral devices don’t work, then it is time to consider a CPAP machine.