Doctors specializing in the treatment of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, strongly recommend the use of a mouthpiece for snoring. While the mouthpiece is not the be-all and end-all in the treatment of sleep disorders, it is a crucial aspect in lessening the frequency, duration and intensity of snoring. Emphasis must be made that snoring has adverse physical and psychological effects both on the person who snores and the people who hear him snoring, such as increased risks for sleep deprivation and heart disease.
Mouthpieces for snoring, which are known in medical circles as mandibular advancement devices (MAD) or mandibular advancement splints, are dental appliances designed to be worn in the mouth at night. While many people use these oral devices as an adjunct treatment for excessive snoring, doctors also use them in the treatment of a wide range of orofacial (e.g., obstructive sleep apnea) and TMJ disorders.
Each anti snoring mouthpiece is designed to move slightly the lower jaw forward which makes the muscles and soft tissues of the upper airway tighter. This contributes to the significant reduction of the duration, frequency and intensity over time in two ways:
It must be noted that the most common causes of snoring are:
The mouthpiece compensates for the lower jaw being set too far backward by keeping it advanced forward even while the wearer is asleep. By keeping the lower jaw forward, it cannot fall backwards to obstruct the air passage located at the back of the throat. The device also pulls the tongue forward, which contributes to the reduction of snoring.
Doctors will usually discuss the pros and cons of the several types of anti-snoring mouthpieces in the market. Keep in mind that each individual will have specific needs and wants in a snoring mouthpiece due to the differences in oral structure; type of sleep disorder; and frequency, duration and intensity of snoring, among other factors.
Aside from the in-depth discussions about the best type of snoring mouth piece to use, trial and error may also be necessary until the best type is identified. Since the oral device can be considered as a medical device used in the treatment of a sleep disorder, most insurance companies cover its cost.
First, the mandibular advancement devices (MAD) are still the most common type of mouthpieces designed for the treatment of moderate to severe snoring. As its name implies, each device advances the mandibular forward to create a “gap” at the back of the throat. Without the restriction to the air passage, the air flows freely in and out of the upper airway to stop snoring in its tracks.
Most of these oral appliances have similar core features that make them effective in the treatment of snoring. Due to the competition, each brand has distinguishing features including increased comfort, adjustable sizes, and hinged designs as well as mouth breathing holes.
These oral appliances have a present and fixed amount of mandibular advancement although a better fit can also be achieved. Most of the standard mouthpieces are the boil-and-bite molding variety wherein a home molding process can be done for a better fit but not a custom fit, as is the case with the other types.
Depending on the variety, a standard MAD mouthpiece can sit over the lower teeth or sit on both the lower and upper teeth. Doctors will usually recommend one or the other depending on the jaw’s structure as well as on the patient’s preferences.
Due to the lack of specialized features, the standard MAD mouthpieces are among the most affordable. Just be careful to avoid sacrificing quality for affordability especially with the substandard mouthpieces in the market.
These anti-snoring mouthpieces provide users with the benefit of incremental adjustments in relation to the mandibular advancement (i.e., the amount by which the lower jaw is pushed forward). Most of these mouthpieces are also the boil-and-bite molding variety, which allows for improved fit.
Even among adjustable MAD mouthpieces, the wide variety allows for better fit. These mouthpieces allow for either fine incremental adjustments or set steps; restrictive range or a wider range of adjustability; and adjustments with or without tools (e.g., hex tools).
And adjustable mouth piece for snoring is a recommended device for people who require more than the small mandibular adjustment that a standard mouthpiece can offer. Be sure to build up in small increments to minimized long-term issues concerning jaw and bite alignment.
These anti-snoring mouthpieces come in either the standard or adjustable type but with one key difference: each mouthpiece has been professionally molded for a perfect fit. Basically, a patient receives a molding kit, which will be used to get an impression of his teeth and mouth. The dental impression will be sent to a laboratory where the custom mouthpiece to stop snoring will be made.
In other instances, a qualified dentist will perform the molding and fitting job for the patient. This ensures a better fit since the dentist has the knowledge and skills to take better dental impressions.
A custom-fitted mouthpiece is usually more expensive than the boil-and-bite, over-the-counter varieties but it provides for the best fit. The risks for jaw pain and facial aches can be lessened because of the custom fit.
Doctors also recommend additional features that enhance the fit, comfort and convenience of using an anti-snoring mouthpiece. These features include breathing holes in the mouthpiece, special back hinges for moth flexibility and less rigidity, and added tongue support.
Second, the tongue stabilizing device (TSD) is a smaller mouthpiece than the abovementioned MADs. It works by keeping the tongue in a forward position, which means that the base of the tongue and the inner mouth do not fall back to restrict air passage. It should be placed in front of the mouth and the tongue placed in it (i.e., tongue out position).
The differences in design between a TSD and MAD are of little consequence since their effects are similar. Patients will prefer one over the other depending on their personal preferences in size, design and features, among others.
Anti-snoring mouthpieces are widely recommended by doctors and used by patients in the United States with other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Israel, following suit. While there is still room for improvement in these oral appliances, doctors consider MADs and TSDs as good therapy choices because of their numerous benefits. At present, designers of these oral appliances focus their efforts on the reduction of bulk as well as on the enhancement of free jaw movement (e.g., ability to speak, drink, and yawn with the device on) and mouth breathing.
Clinical studies have shown that these oral appliances are effective in either the significant reduction or total elimination of snoring depending on the severity of the problem. These devices have also been proven more effective in controlling the symptoms of sleep apnea over the long term in comparison with uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). This is the standard surgical procedure for obstructive sleep apnea wherein the surgeon removes the soft tissues from the back of the patient’s throat.
Every person with snoring issues will find the best type of TSD or MAD for his needs with factors like jaw structure, severity of snoring spells, and features for comfort, convenience and fit being considered. The custom-fitted mouthpieces are obviously the best choice but because of their more expensive prices, many patients will prefer the standard and adjustable pieces for their similar effects at lower prices.
High-quality MAD and TSD mouthpieces are made from safe materials, such as BPA-free materials, and designed with maximum comfort in mind. The best mouthpieces also have approval for use granted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Tip: If you want to enjoy these benefits, look for a stop snoring mouthpiece with FDA approval and positive consumer reviews.
Patients who use either the TSDs or the MADs should be aware of the potential long-term issues stemming from the use of these oral devices. These issues include bite misalignment, jaw pain, and facial aches, among others. But when the costs are weighed against the benefits, these mouthpieces are the only realistic solutions against snoring.
Patients suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea who cannot tolerate or who have not experienced alleviation from their symptoms, including snoring, with the use of CPAPs will likely benefit from the use of these oral appliances. Doctors, however, should supervise the use of these oral devices for best results.
When used appropriately, a mouthpiece for snoring is an effective treatment against the health issue but other methods should also be adopted, such as the right sleeping position, lifestyle habits, and even medications.