There are many routes you can take to tackle a problem with snoring and buying a mandibular advancement device is one of the most popular ones.
Although there is no one solution that fits all, mandibular advancement devices have helped countless snorers, all over the world, enjoy better quality sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. If you are presently looking for a good way to stop snoring, there’s a good chance a mandibular advancement device may be able to help you too.
What Will I Learn?
Mandibular advancement devices are often referred to as MADs, anti-snoring mouthpieces, and anti-snoring mouthguards. Strangely enough, they are known as snoring mouthpieces and snoring mouthguards as well.
Don’t let all the different names confuse you though. Although there can be a few minor differences between different mouthpiece brands, they all work exactly the same.
“Mandibular advancement” refers to the way such devices work. MAD is an acronym and the names “mouthpiece” and “mouthguard” refer to the way the devices look.
All anti-snoring devices of this type bear a strong resemblance to the gum shields people place in their mouths before doing boxing or other combat sports. The main difference is they cover both sets of teeth instead of just the ones at the top.
How Do Mandibular Advancement Devices Work?
Before you can understand the way mandibular advancement devices work, you need to understand the reason why people snore.
Why People Snore
There are two types of snoring—mouth snoring and nose snoring. Most people who snore are mouth snorers. This is the type of snoring mandibular advancement devices are meant to address.
That horrible pig-like noise that comes from the back of the mouth happens when the tissues at the back of the throat begin to vibrate.
If that sounds like a wild idea to you, think about the way saxophones and other reed instruments work. The sound they emit happens when the player’s breath makes the reed in the instrument vibrate.
Didgeridoos work in a similar way but the sound they emit is the result of the didgeridoo player’s vibrating lips.
Some people are more prone to snoring than other people are. If you are overweight, for instance, you are more likely to start to snore.
Many people who snore do so due to a medical condition called sleep apnea. However, although most people who have sleep apnea snore, most people’s snoring is not the result of sleep apnea.
Regardless of the reason behind it, snoring is the result of an airway obstruction. This is the catalyst that makes the throat tissues vibrate. The obstruction is generally caused by the back of the tongue.
During sleep, the tongue relaxes and slips further back in the mouth. That why sleeping on your back makes you more likely to snore.
How Mandibular Advancement Devices Stop Snoring
Want to know how these devices work? In a nutshell, what they do is pull on your tongue. MADs are not the only type of anti-snoring device that works in this way. Tongue stabilizing devices (TSDs) stretch the tongue forward as well. However, MADs work in a unique and ingenious way.
Instead of pulling on the end section of the tongue like a TSD does, mandibular adjustment devices force the jaw forward during sleep. Because it’s attached to the bottom of the mouth, when the jaw moves forward the tongue has to go with it too.
The level of jaw displacement is not much but it’s sufficient to increase airflow through the throat during sleeping and prevent the tongue from getting in the way.
The really clever thing is the way the device forces the jaw forward. It does it by using the teeth.
A typical mandibular advancement device is somewhat wedge-shaped. The top and bottom contain recesses the teeth can fit inside but they are not perfectly aligned.
Unless you were born with a jaw defect, your bottom front teeth should sit just behind the ones at the top. This type of anti-snoring mouthguard is shaped in a way that forces the teeth to be more inline or may even drag the bottom set slightly forward of the ones at the top.
All the best MADs also have a hole at the front. This ensures normal mouth breathing is still achievable.
Dental Devices Vs. the Ones You Can Set-Up at Home
Anti-snoring mouthguards of this type have been around for a long time. Since 1902, in fact, when Pierre Robin came up with an oral appliance he called the Monobloc. Like modern-day mandibular adjustment devices, his Monobloc was a mouth insert that forced the lower jaw forward.
During the early days, this type of anti-snoring technology was only available via dental surgeons.
Due to the way the devices work, it’s important the upper and lower trays are an excellent fit for the teeth. Many years ago, dentists were the only people who were able to make accurate impressions of the teeth.
Boxers in need of protective gum shields could only get them via their dentists too. Boil and bite changed all that.
Boil and bite is a system that makes it possible to make accurate teeth impressions at home. These days many fighters enter the ring wearing boil and bite gum shields. The system also makes it possible to buy cheap, easy to fit mandibular devices and set them up at home.
To put things into perspective, buying an anti-snoring device of this nature from your dentist is likely to entail paying a four-figure sum. With an average price of $18,000-$2,000, dental MADs are not cheap. Many of the best boil and bite MADs cost less than $100.
Boil and bite MADs are generally a one size fits all deal. They are made from a special heat-sensitive resin. Placing the device in hot water softens the resin making it possible to take accurate teeth impressions.
Fixed or Adjustable: Which MAD Is Best For You?
There are two types of MAD—fixed and adjustable. The fixed type is probably the most common.
Adjustable MADs incorporate a system that makes it possible to adjust the level of jaw advancement. Fixed MADs do not. You have to push your jaw forward during the initial boil and bite set-up.
If the level of jaw protrusion is insufficient and snoring persists, the only thing you can do is repeat the boil and bite process.
Many people do get it right first time and stop snoring instantly. This type of technology, though relatively simple, can be very effective.
However, spending the entire night with the jaw advanced can be uncomfortable. It may take time to get used to it and it’s not uncommon for new users to wake up with headaches and/or aching jaws.
The chances of such problems greatly increase if you advance the jaw too far while doing the boil and bite.
Adjustable boil and bite MADs tend to be a little more expensive than fixed MADs. However, the ability to adjust them makes it possible to gradually extend the amount of jaw inclination over a period of weeks.
Of course, if you take this slow and steady approach, it may take a while for the device to get your snoring under control. However, adjustable MADs give the jaw time to adjust to their presence. This greatly reduces the likelihood of negative issues.
Will a Mandibular Adjustment Device Be the Right Choice For You?
If you have a problem with snoring, there’s a good chance a mandibular adjustment device will help you get the problem under control. Unfortunately, they are not suitable for all.
Unless you have plenty of good front teeth (top and bottom) a mandibular adjustment device won’t be for you.
Let’s not forget these devices use the teeth to pull the lower jaw forward. This places the front teeth under stress—all night long. If you have crowns or dental implants, they may not be able to take the strain. This could have costly repercussions.
If you are keen to use an anti-snoring device of this type and are worried your teeth may not be strong enough to take the strain, the best thing to do is discuss the matter with your dentist.
When it comes to stopping snoring, MADs are an established solution. The thing to remember is, they aren’t the only solution. So don’t lose heart if you don’t have enough original teeth.
If using a mandibular adjustment device is not an option, don’t worry. There are other snoring solutions you can try. TSDs and chin straps are just two of the possible routes you may want to explore instead.