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Do Mouthpieces Work for Sleep Apnea?

Do Mouthpieces Work for Sleep Apnea?

Mouthpieces are devices that go inside the mouth to treat disease or to prevent injury. One example of a protective mouthpiece worn by athletes and those with bruxism (excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching) is a mouthguard.

However, there are also mouthpieces used as snoring solutions. Because these devices are much easier to use and less expensive than other devices designed to treat sleep apnea, those diagnosed with this condition may wonder whether they could benefit from a mouthpiece. Below, you’ll find more information about mouthpieces and whether they work for sleep apnea. 

What Are Mouthpieces?

In the context of snore solutions, the term “mouthpiece” refers to two types of oral appliances:

  • Mandibular advancement devices (MADs)
  • Tongue stabilizing devices (TSDs). 

  • Both reduce snoring by increasing airway space. Mandibular advancement devices (MADs) work by moving the jaw slightly forward, and tongue stabilizing devices (TSDs) work by keeping the tongue in place. 

    When snoring results from an obstruction in the throat area — due to excessive relaxing of throat muscles or extra tissue in and around the throat — a mouthpiece can make a huge difference. 

    However, a mouthpiece isn’t always suitable. People with severe periodontal disease, disorders of the jaw joint, inadequate dentition or implants, nasal congestion, and a strong gag reflex may not want to use mouthpieces. 


    Using Mouthpieces for Sleep Apnea

    The gold standard in sleep apnea treatment is typically continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. CPAP therapy entails using CPAP machines which create mild air pressure to keep the airways open.

    However, CPAP machines can be costly. They also use up electricity, are noisy, and can make you feel claustrophobic. For these and other reasons, an estimated 80% of people prescribed  CPAP therapy don’t adhere to it and look for other forms of relief — mouthpieces. 

    Lucky for them, mouthpieces can be an effective sleep apnea solution for milder cases. 

    However, severe cases may not see any results. In fact, guidelines from health authorities, such as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, don’t recommend the use of oral appliances for severe sleep apnea. That’s because clinical trials frequently show efficiency only in mild to moderate cases, although contradicting studies do exist. 

    What If I Want to Try Mouthpieces?

    If you’ve tried CPAP therapy and haven’t found success, you can give mouthpieces a try. 

    The American Sleep Association (ASA) says that, although mouthpieces are more effective in milder cases, they may be recommended to patients with severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP.

    But you have to work with your healthcare provider to determine whether this type of treatment is suitable for you. As the ASA explains, even after you have received your mouthpiece, your doctor may request to carry out a sleep study to see if it is effective. 

    If you’re interested in trying out tongue stabilizing devices, on the other hand, you’ll be happy to learn these don’t require customization and fitting, as MADs do. They’re also less likely to cause serious side effects, such as tooth discomfort and jaw pain. See our Good Morning Snore Solution, which is one such TSD device that was clinically tested and FDA cleared.


    In Conclusion

    If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor probably recommended CPAP therapy. However, many find CPAP therapy difficult to adhere to. If that’s true for you, then you could try a mouthpiece. But you need to keep in mind that these are usually more effective for people with milder sleep apnea. If you have severe sleep apnea, however,  and want to try out mouthpieces, speak to your doctor first.


    References:

    1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/oral-appliance#:~:text=Oral%20appliances%20typically%20come%20in,and%20relieve%20upper%20airway%20obstruction.
    2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/adj.12111
    3. https://www.aastweb.org/blog/what-is-cpap-continuous-positive-airway-pressure-therapy
    4. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2296119
    5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2645251/
    6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5120906/
    7. https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-apnea/mouthpieces/