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Do You Need A Sleep Apnea Mouthpiece?

Updated on July 1, 2018
Sam Shepards profile image

I'm Sam. I enjoy writing about health and mental health-related topics as well as natural ways to prevent disease and stress.

Sleep Apnea patients have at their disposal a number of treatment options. These range from overnight hospital stays to lifestyle changes. The complications of hospital procedure are many. Not only do they intrude upon the normal day-to-day procedures of your life, they are also very costly. Most individuals prefer to find sleep apnea treatments that work in tandem with their current lifestyle.

Why travel to the hospital when you can remedy the problem in your own home? Having the luxury of in-home treatment allows you to improve your health with little invasiveness to your normal daily schedule. For those seeking an answer to their sleep apnea, a dental device may just be the solution that’s right for you.

What is a mouthpiece for sleep apnea?

A sleep apnea mouthpiece may also be referred to as a sleep apnea mouth guard. It is a dental device that you wear while you sleep. They are designed to function with minimal interference and utilize your time in the most effective manner possible. No additional effort is required.

Any mouth guard for sleep apnea is designed to correct airflow obstruction. Anatomical limitations such as excess tissue in the throat or a floppy tongue can cause an obstruction to the airway. Low blood oxygen levels may result and snoring may develop. The easiest way to correct these issues and encourage open airway channels is to reposition the jaw. Sleep apnea mouthguards gently reposition your jaw in such a way as to eliminate any anatomical structure from blocking air flow.

As an experiment, try moving your lower jaw forward. Observe the ease and depth of breath you are able to achieve. This simple maneuver manipulates your jaw to allow for an increase in space within the mouth and throat. Such is the function of dental mouthpieces for sleep apnea.

How does a sleep apnea mouthpiece work?

How this treatment works is rather simple. By advancing the lower jaw the base of the tongue is affected as it moves forward and creates more space around the airway opening. This improves breathing significantly. Often times, patients will seek a sleep apnea mouthpiece to reduce snoring, which occurs when airflow is restricted in the throat. The throat vibrates as air struggles to pass the blockage. Sometimes loud snorting occurs as a result of the air passing through a collapsed airway passage. A dental mouthpiece serves to effectively reposition the jaw so other anatomical structures such as the tongue fall into functional alignment.

Deciding on an oral appliance for sleep apnea

There are two main types of mouthpieces for sleep apnea airflow correction:

A. Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)

Mandibular Advancement Devices are the most commonly utilized oral devices to treat sleep apnea. Created by a dental professional, MAD devices are custom made to fit your mouth. The prosthesis fits over the upper and lower teeth and holds the lower jaw slightly forward. Such placement of the jaw advances the tongue forward while also encouraging the soft tissues of the throat to open the airway. The dental mouthpiece for sleep apnea is adjusted little by little on a weekly or monthly basis, providing for less discomfort and better tolerance. These measures effectively restore normal breathing during sleep.

B. Tongue Retaining Device (TRD)

Tongue Retaining Devices are less commonly used. A tongue retaining device specifically targets the tongue to hold it forward and/or flat. The purpose of such apparatus’ is to create a free passage of air flow. The most common obstruction of sleep apnea comes from tongue collapse. Through the gently use of suction TRDs operate by keeping the tongue in a forward position during sleep. Similar to a MAD device, the repositioning of anatomical structures within the mouth effectively restore normal breathing.

Because Mandibular Advancement Devices are the more commonly found oral mouthpiece for sleep apnea on the market, a few statistics would serve to solidify it as a preferred means of addressing sleep apnea. Success varies widely with any form of treatment. It has been shown that MAD success rate can go up as high as 70-80% for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Numerous users have reported that MADs work very well for snoring. In fact, commercial consumers often seek MADs specifically to address snoring problems.

How to decide on the best sleep apnea mouthpiece for you?

The quality and cost of dental mouthpieces for sleep apnea vary based on a few factors. A custom created mouthguard by a dentist is the best quality you can acquire. Going the professional route, you can expect to pay $300-$500 for an initial examination and consultation. The device itself will typically cost between $1200 and $2000. The custom sleep apnea oral appliance cost can be a deciding factor for many people to try other options.

Over the counter oral appliances, though more affordable, will obviously suffer in quality, due the generic branding of appliances. Not only are you not provided the attention and guidance of a medical professional, you also risk the side effects of choosing an ill-fitted mouth piece. The price tag for do-it-yourself devices is very attractive compared to the alternative. An online search for over the counter mouth guard devices will range in price from $60-$300.

Dr. Gail Demko, an expert in the field of sleep apnea, had this to say about the comparison of custom verses over the counter dental appliances –

Custom fitted devices fit snuggly on the teeth and don’t loosen up in the mouth. They don’t fall out . . . They are easy for the patient to adjust, they are not just one piece. They are comfortable and don’t cut into the gums. They don’t torque the teeth. They put pressure on all of the teeth instead of just one, and they are not put in the mouth of a patient whose not a good candidate. Demko, Gail, Dr

For those looking for fast result, and are curious to venture into the mouthpiece market for sleep apnea, Snoring Mouthpiece Guide offers their top 3 rated brands:

A. ZQUIET

A Mandibular Advancement Device, constructed to allow air to move freely and prevent a restriction in flow. Its unique design focuses on a Living Hinge, allowing free movement of the mouth. ZQuiet’s website reports a 94% satisfaction rate. Functional and affordable ($70), ZQuiet is safe and effective.

B. Good Morning Snore Solution

GMSS is a Tongue Stabilizing Device, whose popularity is increasing in today’s market. Good Morning Snore Solution works by using a suction device to pull the tip of the tongue forward and is a great for all solution. Many users have found this product to be effective and a great alternative to bulky MAD devices. Ranging around $100, GMSS is considered by most reviewers to be just as effective as other over-the-counter devices on the market. However, its unique design and function may just suit your preference.

C. Vitalsleep

A Mandibular Advancement Device, this product is classified as a Class II anti-snoring device. Featuring Boil and Bite technology, its design allows for a custom fit in two sizes. This device runs around $60. In a study conducted by the Department of Thoracic Medicine at Middlesex Hospital, 85% of patients who completed the study had shown improvements in snoring while using a device closely related to the Vitalsleep.

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