Is Your Tongue Causing Airway Obstruction?
You may have been told by a friend, partner, or family member that you have a snoring problem. There are a few causes of snoring, but one possible explanation is that your tongue is obstructing your airway. If your tongue blocks airway when sleeping, you may benefit from an anti-snoring oral appliance. To find the best treatment, you first should understand what causes snoring and what treatments are available.
How Can You Be Sure That Your Tongue Is to Blame?
Not everyone snores because of their tongue, but you can test yourself to see if your tongue is to blame.
First, stick out your tongue and gently bite down on it to keep it in place. Then, try to make a snoring sound when you inhale. If it was difficult or impossible to snore with your tongue sticking out, your tongue is probably the cause of your snoring. More details about this test can be found on this page.
How Exactly Does Your Tongue Cause Snoring?
If your tongue is larger than average or relaxes too much when you sleep, it can partially block your throat. You’ll have to inhale more forcefully to get the air past this obstruction and into your lungs. As you breathe in, your tongue may vibrate against your throat or against the tissues in the back of your mouth. This is what creates the rattling snoring sound.
Some people are naturally predisposed to snoring because of the anatomy of their tongue, jaw, or mouth. Certain factors can make snoring more likely, though. If you sleep on your back, gravity may pull your tongue down over your throat, but this is less of a problem when you sleep on your side. Consuming alcohol before bed is another risk factor. Alcohol is a muscle relaxant, and your tongue is a muscle, so drinking at night could cause your tongue to collapse over your throat.
Can an Oral Appliance Treat Snoring Without CPAP?
CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is a common treatment for severe snoring or sleep apnea. The treatment uses a mask that covers your nose or mouth and provides a steady supply of oxygen to keep your airway open. It’s highly effective, but many people find the mask uncomfortable or claustrophobic. Most people can successfully treat their snoring without needing CPAP therapy. Other oral devices are less bulky and intrusive but can be just as effective for treating snoring.
Why Is an Oral Appliance Preferred Over CPAP?
Oral appliances offer many advantages. Most oral anti-snoring devices are smaller and more comfortable than CPAP masks. They don’t cover your face or prevent you from sleeping in a comfortable position. They don’t make any noise, and they won’t make you feel claustrophobic.
Oral appliances are also much more convenient than CPAP masks. They’re small and lightweight, so you can easily take them with you when you travel. CPAP masks come with a long tube and a machine, so packing them in a suitcase can be difficult. Most oral appliances have a discreet design and fit entirely in your mouth, so no one will notice if you’re wearing one while you sleep.
To get a CPAP machine, you need to see a sleep specialist, an ENT, or another doctor. While it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor about your snoring problem, you don’t need a prescription for an anti-snoring oral appliance. If you buy one directly from the manufacturer, they may just have you fill out a questionnaire to make sure you’re a good candidate for the device.
What Are Your Oral Appliance Options?
There are a wide variety of different oral appliances available. New, innovative snoring treatments come out all the time, so you may have to try out a few before you find the best fit. The two most popular oral appliances are tongue stabilizing devices and mandibular advancement devices.
Tongue Stabilizing Devices
TSDs are typically the best option for those who snore because their tongue blocks airway when sleeping. The device looks similar to a baby’s pacifier, but it’s designed to hold your tongue forward and keep it from collapsing. It’s usually made of plastic or silicone resin and has a suction cup attached to two wings. The suction cup attaches to the tip of your tongue, and the wings sit on the front of your teeth or gums.
A TSD might feel strange or uncomfortable at first, but most people adjust to it within a few days. Some people experience dry mouth, excess salivation, difficulty swallowing, and breathing problems when using a TSD. If you experience these problems for more than a couple weeks, a TSD might not be your best option.
Mandibular Advancement Devices
An MAD is a type of mouth guard that pulls your lower jaw forward, which creates more open space in your throat for you to breathe. If you have a large tongue, an MAD can help you breathe normally while you sleep. Even if your tongue blocks your airway slightly, the device can open up your throat enough that you can still breathe easily.
MADs usually need to be custom-fitted to your teeth with the boil-and-bite method. Like TSDs, they take a few days to get used to. Common side effects include a sore jaw, dry mouth, and excess salivation. If these symptoms don’t go away over time, you should try a different MAD or a different device altogether.
Which Oral Appliance Should You Choose?
There are dozens of different types and brands of oral appliances, so it can be hard to figure out which is best for you. Here are some of the most popular and highly-reviewed anti-snoring appliances:
Good Morning Snore Solution
Good Morning Snore Solution is a TSD that uses BPA-free plastic. It has been cleared by the United States FDA and the Canadian Therapeutic Products Directorate. The device is fairly comfortable and easy to adjust to, and it usually lasts for about a year before needing to be replaced. The manufacturer offers a money-back guarantee in case it doesn’t work well for you.
Aveo TSD is another popular anti-snoring device that uses medical grade silicone. It comes in three sizes, so it fits almost everyone. The device is especially soft and non-irritating to the teeth and gums, which is a big complaint with many other brands. It has a lifespan of about 12 months, but some people use theirs for much longer without wearing it down.
Airsnore is an MAD that extends the lower jaw and widens the airway. The device is similar to all other MADs, but the manufacturer also sells special drops that can also help with your snoring symptoms. The Airsnore drops are made of essential oils, which can relieve nasal congestion and soothe a sore throat. These cold-like symptoms often make snoring worse, so using the drops along with the MAD will help you address multiple causes of your snoring.
VitalSleep is an MAD that has a micro-adjust feature. It fits to your teeth with the boil-and-bite method, but you can gradually increase how far it pulls your jaw forward. Many people struggle with jaw pain or discomfort when trying to adjust to an MAD, but the VitalSleep device allows you to slowly get accustomed to the treatment and find the exact positioning that works best for you.
Snoring affects the quality of your sleep and can prevent your body from getting enough oxygen. It may not seem like a big problem, but it can take a toll on your physical and psychological health. If you snore regularly, you should look for a treatment that works for you. These oral appliances are some of the easiest and most effective solutions available, so they’re a great place to start.