Understanding Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS) for Sleep Apnea
Mandibular Advancement Splints, or MAS, are mouth guards designed to help with sleep apnoea. They are like a puzzle piece that fits over your bottom and top teeth, keeping the lower jaw slightly forward during sleep. This forward movement tightens the upper airway muscles, preventing blockages and reducing episodes of apnoea/hypopnea (interrupted breathing) during sleep. Lessening airway obstruction can also minimise snoring.
How MAS Work:
- MAS position the bottom teeth in front of the top ones, pushing the lower jaw slightly forward.
- This forward movement tightens the upper airway, preventing blockages and reducing the severity of apnoea/hypopnea episodes.
- MAS can also minimize snoring by preventing vibrations in the airway tissues during breathing.
Comfort and Adjustment:
- A properly fitted MAS should not cause significant discomfort, but some users may experience mild tooth tenderness or increased saliva production.
- Most people find MAS more comfortable and convenient than using a CPAP machine.
Who Benefits from MAS:
- Good candidates include those with mild to moderate sleep apnoea (20 to 30 apnoea/hypopnea episodes).
- It can be helpful for those with positional apnoea/hypopnea, especially if lying on their side improves symptoms.
- People with a receding bottom jaw may also benefit from using MAS.
Not Suitable for Everyone:
- MAS may not work well for those with poor dental structure or no teeth.
- Individuals with stiff jaw joints might not achieve the necessary forward movement.
- Overweight individuals with severe sleep apnoea may find a CPAP machine more effective.
- MAS are not recommended for complicated sleep apnoea’s, such as central sleep apnoea.
Pros and Cons:
- Advantages of MAS include significant reduction in apnoea episodes, especially for mild to moderate cases.
- People who sleep on their stomachs or backs may experience marked improvement.
- Some reduction in snoring loudness and frequency is also reported.
- Disadvantages include potential discomfort, such as excessive saliva, tooth discomfort, dry lips, and occasional pain.
- It's essential to consult with a qualified sleep specialist or dentist when considering MAS, as long-term use may cause changes in jaw or teeth position.
Mandibular Advancement Splints can be effective for certain sleep apnoea cases, but it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice and proper monitoring.
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