For years, CPAP or Continuous positive airway pressure therapy had been the treatment of choice for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. However, while it did do what it promised to, it had certain marked drawbacks that resulted in a decrease in its popularity in recent years. Common problems with CPAP usage include dry mouth and throat, feeling of claustrophobia when wearing the mask, trouble falling asleep, leaky mask and skin lacerations at bridge of the nose. Several studies that have been done in search of a more effective solution have shown that an MAS or Mandibular Advancement Splint is a far better alternative for sleep apnea sufferers. The MAS opens up the airways and allows the user to breathe normally and have a good, restful night’s sleep.
What Is An MAS Device?
A Mandibular Advancement Splint, also known as Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD), sleep apnea mouth guard or sleep apnea oral appliance, is a small device that is similar to a mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. Made of acrylic, this device fits over the upper and lower teeth or tongue and is safe, user-friendly and unobtrusive.
How The MAS Device Works
When placed in the mouth, the mandibular advancement splint lowers the jaw or tongue slightly. This slight advancement of the jaw pushes the base of the tongue forward and tightens the upper respiratory muscles, hindering their ability to collapse. These actions help to open up the airway, improve breathing and significantly reduce the vibration of the airway tissues, all of which work to reduce snoring and sleep apnea.
Mandibular advancement splints are comfortable and well tolerated by the majority of patients. They are easy to place and remove, easy to clean and are convenient for travel. Modern design innovations allow dental appliance users to speak while retaining the device in their mouth.
Advantages Of Using An MAS Device V/S CPAP Treatment
MAS devices offer several advantages over the more traditional CPAP treatment. Some of the more notable benefits include:
• More user-friendly as compared to the CPAP
• Reduction in severity of symptoms especially in individuals who sleep on their stomach or their back
• No need of a battery pack or power supply
• No laceration-causing masks
• No feelings of claustrophobia
• Considerable improvement in quality and quantity of sleep
• Higher patient compliance because of the smaller size, higher portability and usability, convenience of use and lower maintenance
• Better value for money – the cost of the treatment is lower than that of CPAP therapy
Additional studies that were carried out re-assessing patients after 1 to 5 months of MAS treatment indicate that there is a reasonably high rate of sustained control even in those patients who suffered from severe OSA.
Ideally fitting an MAS appliance into the mouth is usually done by a dentist that specialises in Sleep therapies. This should also include a period of follow up to ensure the efficacy of the device and that the patient is receiving maximum benefit from the device, this should perhaps also include a further home sleep test.