Obstructive sleep apnea is a problem that you cannot treat by simply making lifestyle changes. You may need the help of anti-snoring devices as well.
If you are not aware of these devices and how they work, find out more about them before rushing out to buy one. These devices come in different types, all having advantages and disadvantages. Take the time to make a wise choice.
What are Anti-Snoring Devices?
Anti-snoring devices, as their name suggests, aim to get rid of apnea (breathing difficulties) and snoring as you sleep. They work in various ways to keep the muscles of the upper airway in place, making it easier to breathe.
Commonly used devices are Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs) and Tongue Stabilizing Devices (TSDs). Others, such as chin-up strips, nasal strips, nasal dilators and vestibular shields serve the same purpose.
Types of Anti-Snoring Devices
1. Mandibular Advancement Devices
a. What they are
Though they look a little scary, Mandibular Advancement Devices, otherwise known as a Mandibular Advancement Splints, help to curb snoring. These mouth guard-like devices treat snoring by holding the mouth open and moving the mandible (jaw), forward while you sleep. MADs fit over the upper jaw, lower jaw or both to force them forward.
The vibrating of upper airway tissue as air passes over it generates loud snores. MADs stretch and tighten the upper airway tissue, preventing this. MADs create more volume in the upper airway, enabling you to breathe better as you sleep.
A growing number of studies show that these devices treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or severe snoring, effectively. One conducted by the Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine showed that these devices are as effective as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) ventilators in suppressing snoring. They also lowered the blood pressure of patients suffering from sleep apnea.
These devices also stop teeth grinding and suit those who snore because of misaligned jaws.
Most are user-friendly and easy to carry around. Convenient, they do not need a power supply to operate.
However, their design sometimes causes side effects such as mouth dryness, uncomfortable gums or teeth, and temporary pain in the jaw. Nearly everyone who uses them drools. Some users may also develop gag reflexes.
Note that MADs do not necessarily work for everyone, as individuals respond to them differently.
2. Tongue Stabilizing Devices
a. What is a Tongue Stabilizing Device?
A Tongue Stabilizing Device (TSD) is another mouthpiece people use to treat apnea and curb snoring.
A little quirky, it is a small piece of plastic that resembles a pacifier. Placed on your lips, it has a hole to insert your tongue in. It holds your tongue forward, preventing it from falling back and blocking your airway. This decreases snoring.
This device is useful for those who keep snoring, despite making lifestyle changes. A great benefit of a TSD is that you do not need a professional to fit it. Putting one on yourself is easy. It is also convenient, portable and inexpensive. Small, you can carry it about easily.
A TSD is suitable for those whose inner mouth tissue is particularly thick. As it sits in the front of your mouth, there is little gum or tooth irritation. A TSD is an effective device, as long as your jaw is not out of place.
However, it does come with a few drawbacks. Not everyone can use a TSD, as the tongue must stick out past the teeth to secure it. Those who have a frenulum(connective tissue that secures the tongue to the mouth floor) that is completely intact may have problems sticking their tongues out far enough.
It is also more time-consuming to use. You must soak it in hot water to make the plastic flexible. The device is sometimes insecure and may come off as you sleep. It may discolor your tongue slightly when you use it.
3. Other devices
a. Nasal strips
These are adhesive bandages with plastic splints you put over your nose bridge and the sides of your nostrils.They keep your airway open and stop snoring.
b. Chin-up strips
Chin-up strips are adhesive strips you place below your chin as you sleep. They push your jaw forward and keep your airway open.
c. Vestibular shields
As their name suggests, these devices resemble little shields. These keep air from passing through your mouth and vibrating the tissue in your airway. They stop snoring by encouraging breathing through the nose.
How to choose an Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece
With so many MADs,TSDs and other mouthpieces on the market, choosing a suitable one for yourself is difficult. Here are some considerations.
1. Choose one that fits
The device must fit. MADs come in one size, but one size may not fit all.
You can fit MAD devices using the boil and bite method. Simply dip it in boiling water, allow it to cool and bite on it. If you have problems with this, consult a doctor or orthodontist. You will have fewer problems fitting TSDs.
2. Pick an adjustable device.
The more adjustable your device is, the more comfort you will have. Pick flexible MAD or TSD devices.
3. Examine the material
Since the device is going into your mouth, you will have to choose one that is soft. It is also essential that it is BPA (Bisphenol A) free. Used for producing plastic, BPA is responsible for cancer, diabetes and a number of other health conditions.
4. Think about how you breathe
If you breathe through your nose as you sleep, most MADs or TSDs will suit you. However, if you breathe through your mouth, you will need a device with a breathing hole.
5. Cost-effectiveness and durability
Of course, consider budget and durability. An inexpensive device that lasts is always an apt choice.
Knowing more about anti-snoring devices and how they work helps you know which suits you. Understanding their advantages and disadvantages will make you discerning.