Dental appliances are useful tools in treating obstructive sleep apnea as well as snoring. These devices are simple, mouth-worn tools that are designed to keep the airway open, preventing the contact of throat tissues with each other and keeping the airway fairly open to promote proper breathing. Using dental devices in place of CPAP machines can be very beneficial since dental appliances do not have any side effects to the health, apart from the movement and pain of the mandible or the jaw as well as the teeth which usually occurs after long-term use of the device.
There are two common classifications of dental appliances: the mandibular advancement device and the tongue retaining device. Mandibular advancement devices are used to move the mandible forward to keep the throat tissues from collapsing and allowing the airway to remain open. Tongue retaining devices keep the tongue slightly out of the mouth to prevent it from coming in contact with other throat tissues and help keep the airway open.
Mandibular advancement devices are the more commonly used dental appliances. These devices are custom-fitted by dentists, copying the exact impression of the upper and lower teeth to create two molds which are then bitten by the patient. These devices are very similar to mouth guards.
However, some people may experience jaw pains because of mandibular advancement devices. This is because they wear these dental appliances every night throughout the entire sleep, which means that their mouths are kept to a single position that makes the jaw cramp and stuck. In order to address this problem, the elastic mandibular advancement appliance or the EMA was developed.
The EMA is basically similar to any other mandibular advancement device. It is comprised of an upper and a lower mold that is custom-fitted to the exact impression of the teeth. It also has a bite plate laced at the posterior area of the lower mold which keeps the bite open. The difference between the EMA and other dental devices is that the EMA is the elastic bands that are installed at either side of the upper and lower mold. These elastic bands have different elasticity levels. While they work by keeping the lower mold protruded, they also allow the jaw to freely move as the user desires.
The elastic bands attached to the molds of the device make it flexible and easily adjustable for a more comfortable fit on the user’s teeth and mouth. These bands let the jaw move in all directions but significantly advance the lower jaw in a position that guarantees the opening of the airway.
Because of the elastic bands which allow the movement of the jaw, there is less risk of developing temporomandibular pains or dislocations when using the EMA. This is what makes the dental device more beneficial than other ordinary mandibular advancement devices.
EMA’s also make use of thin but durable materials for their molds, which are fit similar to a retainer to keep the teeth in place without causing any pains. Also, the molds follow the undercut areas of the teeth for maximum retention as well as preventing any teeth movement, a feature that cannot be found in many other mandibular advancement appliances.
Using a dental appliance such as the EMA can be very effective in treatment of obstructive sleep apnea as well as snoring. But the EMA is a good choice, as far as dental appliances are concerned, because of its features that allow maximum comfort, temporomandibular movement and flexibility, and efficient airway opening to promote normal respiration. If you use the EMA, you can save yourself the trouble that other mandibular advancement devices cause to the teeth and jaws like pains, dislocations, and unnecessary movement. Nonetheless, a sleep apnea doctor as well as a dentist should first be consulted in order to find out which dental appliance will best fit you.