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Understanding How A Snoring Mouthpiece Works

Updated on March 1, 2013

A snoring mouthpiece essentially works by increasing the size of your airway to make room at the back of your throat, preventing the narrowing or obstruction that happens during sleep which in turn increases air volume when you breathe while sleeping. Relaxed tissues within the airway vibrate with the increase in air volume, causing a very common problem called snoring. To take care of the problem, a snoring mouthpiece functions in two ways. First, as a mandibular advancement device, a mouthpiece moves the tongue and jaw forward to open up the airway. And second, as a tongue stabilizing device, a mouthpiece holds just the tongue forward to open up the airway. When the airway is opened, vibrations in the tissues are reduced or even eradicated, making the snoring stop. Mandibular advancement devices and tongue stabilizing devices are ideal for those who can’t use CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines, but to take full advantage of these snoring mouthpieces it is important that you get one that fits you properly.

Mandibular advancement devices

A snoring mouthpiece like a mandibular advancement device looks very much like a mouth guard used in contact sports like football and boxing. Since snoring happens when you sleep, you wear the mouthpiece to bed. Take note though that this mouthpiece is generally effective only for those whose problems with snoring are caused by their tongues and/or slightly recessed jaws. A mandibular advancement device is made up of two pieces that is placed over both sets of the teeth and then held together by a rigid elastic band. Because of its function though, the mouthpiece will have a lower teeth mold that is a bit jutted forward compared to the upper teeth mold, pushing the lower jaw to sit forward further than normal. When fitted properly, there should be very little discomfort felt, if there are even any. You can freely breathe through the mouth when you sleep though it can take some getting used to going to bed with a snoring mouthpiece.

Tongue stabilizing devices

A tongue stabilizing device, on the other hand, is a small piece of plastic that is designed to sit on your lips resembling an oversized pacifier that has a hole where you can slip your tongue into. When you wear it, it holds your tongue forward so it does not obstruct your airway when you sleep and cause snoring. While a snoring mouthpiece like this is great if you can’t stand a CPAP machine, you also have to take note that there are certain situations that will make a tongue stabilizing device ideal and not so ideal. For example, a tongue stabilizing device is especially useful if you have a large tongue that causes obstruction in your airway. On the other hand, this might not be the best option for you if you have an intact frenulum (the tissue that connects the floor of the mouth to your tongue). Having an intact frenulum means you can’t stick out your tongue far enough past your teeth so you won’t be able to properly wear a tongue stabilizing device.

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