Oral appliances, also called dental devices, are often used to treat snoring. They are useful for correcting mild to moderate snoring commonly associated with sleep apnea. Today, there are numerous devices to choose from and dentists as well as orthodontists may recommend one that will meet the particular needs for each patient.
Mandibular Advancement Device
The Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) type of device is the most commonly prescribed dental sleep device used for Obstructive Sleep Apnea and snoring. They work by moving the lower jaw, or mandible, forward. The tongue attaches to the lower jaw just behind the chin. When the jaw is moved forward it holds the collapsible portion of the airway open. It can also improve the rigidity and strength of the airway because it increases the tongue’s muscle activity.
Tongue Retraining Devices
Similar to the Mandibular Advancement Device, the Tongue retraining device (TRD) works by holding the tongue forward. Unlike the Mandibular device, it does not move the jaw forward, but instead pulls the tongue forward and directly controls the tongue. The TRD has less complications than the MAD, but it can be very uncomfortable. TRDs are more difficult to adjust to and can take a long time to feel comfortable.
Combination Dental Device and CPAP
A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment fits across the nose and can be more effective if used with an oral appliance. A dentist and sleep physician may work together to develop a plan using both types of devices to decrease or eliminate snoring. Patients may wear a custom made dental appliance that attaches directly to the CPAP machine. The CPAP that is combined with an oral appliance can typically be used at a substantially lower pressure setting to effectively eliminate snoring.