The Pros & Cons of Sleep Apnea Mouth Guards

Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea? Does your snoring keep your partner awake every night?

Sleep apnea isn’t just about snoring. It also causes you to start and stop breathing during your sleep and affects almost 1 billion people worldwide.

As you’re looking at treatment options, don’t forget to consider sleep apnea mouthguards. There are advantages and disadvantages to using them for sleep apnea treatment, but you’ll find they can improve sleep apnea symptoms for many people.

Keep reading to learn all about sleep apnea mouth guards as well as the pros and cons of using them to see if they are right for you.

What Is a Sleep Apnea Mouthguard?

Before learning about the pros and cons of sleep apnea mouth guards, it’s first important to understand how they work and how they can help you. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, you’ll have access to different treatment options. In severe cases of sleep apnea, many people are prescribed a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machine to help them breathe at night.

These machines are often used with a sleep apnea mouthpiece for better results. For people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, using mouth guards alone can help reduce your sleep apnea symptoms and allow you to sleep better at night.

A sleep apnea mouth guard is similar to sports guards or nightguards which protect your teeth from damage if you grind your teeth during the night. 

It’s best to find a dentist that has experience in making and fitting mouth guards for people. Your dentist will make impressions of your teeth and call you back to further customize the fitting. You’ll also get instructions on how to use and clean your sleep apnea mouthguard.

The two different types of mouthguards most commonly used for sleep apnea include:

Tongue Stabilizing Device (TSD)

tongue stabilizing device (TSD) is a type of mouthguard treatment that’s used to treat the symptoms of sleep apnea. A TSD is a small piece of plastic that you position on your lips. The plastic portion of this device contains a hole where you insert your tongue and the device then pulls your tongue forward and holds it there. 

Since it holds your tongue forward, it can help create space in the back of your throat and decrease the snoring that occurs with sleep apnea. You have to rinse a TSD with hot water to make the plastic more flexible before use.

A TSD needs to be fitted by your dentist and it only works for people who are able to stick their tongue out past their teeth.

Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)

A mandibular advancement device (MAD) is another sleep apnea mouthguard treatment people often try. A MAD is made of hard plastic that snaps over your upper and lower teeth. It also has metal hinges that are tightened over time to push your lower jaw forward.

With obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles that support the tissue in the back of your throat temporarily relax and narrow your airway while you sleep. A MAD pulls your lower jaw forward and straightens out these muscles at the back of your throat.

MAD devices are usually made to custom fit your mouth by your dentist. You can also find mandibular advancement devices called boil-and-bite MADs over the counter. They are made of a soft material that becomes pliable when you expose them to hot water. You bite down on this type of device to mold it to fit your mouth. 

Sleep Apnea Mouthguard Benefits

There are many pros to using sleep apnea mouthguard devices to treat your sleep apnea, depending on the device you choose to use.

Tongue stabilizing devices are often easier to tolerate for people than a CPAP machine and insurance companies often at least partially cover the cost of this device.

You’ll also find that they are relatively inexpensive in comparison to other mouthguards. Other benefits of TSDs include:

  • They’re long-lasting and easy to keep clean
  • Great for people with large tongues (macroglossia) which obstruct their airway
  • They decrease the amount you snore from sleep apnea

With mandibular advancement devices, you’re more likely to experience a more noticeable decrease in snoring and daytime drowsiness due to sleep apnea vs. when you use TSDs. This is mostly due to the fact people are able to achieve a better fit when using MADs.

Other benefits of MADs include:

  • Very effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea
  • Minimal side effects
  • You can use them long-term

Sleep Apnea Mouthguard Disadvantages

There are also cons to consider when using mouthguard devices for sleep apnea. In particular, tongue stabilizing devices don’t work for people who aren’t able to stick their tongues far enough out for them to fit properly.

Tongue stabilizing devices can also create an uncomfortable sensation around the tip of your tongue while you’re wearing them. Some people experience  other symptoms like:

  • Excess drooling
  • Tongue discoloration immediately after use
  • Some difficulty with keeping them in place all night

Mandibular advancement devices don’t work as well with older adults or for people with obesity. You’ll also have trouble using MADs if you have gum disease, dental disease, or problems with a stiff jaw.

Other cons of using MADs include:

  • Discomfort around your jaw and mouth area
  • Excess drooling
  • Dry mouth
  • Toothache 

Sleep Apnea Mouthguards

If you have sleep apnea, it’s important to visit your dentist regularly and maintain proper oral health care. Sleep apnea can affect your everyday activity in life. At the Dental Team, we work hard to identify common causes and issues related to sleep apnea – and can recommend you to our network of sleep apnea specialists to take care of your needs. 

Make sure you turn to the Dental Team to keep up with your oral health. We also offer many other dental services like implants, dentures, and cosmetic dentistry to fit all your dental care needs.

The Dental Care Team has offices in Brampton, Mississauga, and Vaughan and our friendly staff are ready to answer any questions you have.

Contact us today and schedule an appointment and you’ll sleep better tomorrow!

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