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The Mallampati Score

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Understanding the Likelihood of Sleep Apnea

When physicians and dental professionals like Dr. Ron Briglia understand the likelihood of obstructive sleep apnea, they also have a better chance of treating it sooner and more effectively. At Briglia Dental Group, our West Chester dentist can better evaluate your risk of OSA using the Mallampati score. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of this advanced diagnostic tool.


What is the Mallampati Score?

The Mallampati score is a diagnostic tool used by physicians to determine the need for intubation based on the relative size of the oropharynx (the middle part of the throat). The Mallampati scale uses a rating system of one to four. The score relies on the width of the tongue and the esophageal airways, which affects how likely the tongue is to fall back into the throat and how likely it is that the airways will constrict.  A higher Mallampati score means that there’s less of the throat visible. The score indicates how likely you’ll be to experience constriction of the airways or collapse of your oral soft tissues. 

Mallampati Score Classes

  1. Class one is when the hard and soft palate, tonsils, Uvula, and muscle ridges that separate the oral cavity (oral pillars) are easily visible. 
  2. Class two is when the hard and soft palate, the upper tonsils, and the uvula are visible. 
  3. Class three is when the hard and soft palate is visible but the uvula is partially obscured. 
  4. Class four is when only the soft palette is visible and everything else is obscured by the tongue.  

Benefits of The Mallampati Score

  • Accuracy The Oxford University study found that the Mallampati score is a highly accurate diagnostic tool for predicting chances for obstructive sleep apnea. 
  • Early Intervention – Better understanding of the likelihood of obstructive sleep apnea allows Dr. Briglia to act before the condition further develops. This is especially important for children under the age of twelve, who may see a complete resolution to their symptoms if treatment is administered while they’re still developing. 
  • More Personalized Treatment – Understanding your Mallampati score will help Dr. Briglia determine the specific details of your unique needs, making your treatment more effective. 

Your Mallampati Score Assessment 

Your Mallampati score can be determined with a simple test. Dr. Briglia will examine your entire mouth and determine the width of your tongue and your airways using advanced dental technology. Once he has the precise measurements, he’ll give you a score ranging from one to four, which will help determine your likelihood of obstructive sleep apnea. From there, he can move forward by having you undergo a sleep study and if necessary, prescribe treatment.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Scientific evidence, including the study from Oxford University, suggests that the Mallampati score is a highly accurate predictor of obstructive sleep apnea. However, like most diagnostic health tools, it isn’t foolproof. It’s likely that Dr. Briglia will determine your Mallampati class numbers alongside recommending a sleep study to ensure as accurate a diagnosis as possible.

It’s likely that you’re experiencing obstructive sleep apnea if you have a Mallampati score of 3 or more. Dr. Briglia will take this number into account alongside other factors such as weight, allergies, sleep position, and other health conditions to better determine your likelihood of OSA.
Changes in muscle tone to the tongue and throat can potentially lower your Mallampati class numbers. In certain cases, diet and exercise can help reduce the width of your tongue and neck. That’s why Dr. Briglia may recommend you speak to your primary care provider or a nutritionist about safe weight loss methods.
Low Mallampati class numbers may be a good indicator that you don’t have obstructive sleep apnea. However, this method isn’t 100 percent predictive and it doesn’t rule out other forms of sleep apnea, such as central and mixed sleep apnea.

Visit Briglia Dental Group to Understand Your Mallampati Score

At our West Chester dental office, Dr. Briglia helps patients determine their likelihood of OSA, and get the treatment they need sooner by utilizing advanced diagnostic tools like the Mallampati score. He can determine the Mallampati class numbers for patients in West Chester and surrounding areas such as Chester Springs, Exton, Broomall, and Chadds Ford, PA.

You can learn more about the importance of Mallampati class numbers and their effect on your chances for obstructive sleep apnea by dialing (610) 615-0160 if you’re a new patient, or (610) 692 4440 if you’re returning. You can also click the button at the bottom of the page to schedule an appointment and one of our friendly team members will get back to you shortly.


Dr. Ron Briglia at Briglia Dental Group

Dr. Ron Briglia has been practicing dentistry since 1984. With decades of experience and extensive continuing education, Dr. Briglia provides the most comprehensive dental services.

He earned his Bachelor of Science from Gannon University and his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Temple University Dental School. He has received advanced training at prestigious organizations like Pankey and Las Vegas Institutes. He is IV and oral sedation-certified too.

Most of Dr. Briglia’s patients have continued with him in his family of patients for over 30 – 35 years, and the restorations he has provided them have lasted for 25-35 years – clear evidence of his skills and expertise.

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