Oral snoring (or anti-snoring) appliances are corrective devices worn over the teeth during sleep to eliminate or curb snoring. Snoring occurs due to partial airway blockage caused by the collapse of the soft throat tissue. When air passes through this partially blocked passage, the surrounding tissue vibrates, causing the snoring sound. Oral snoring appliances are also called mouthpiece devices.
How Does a Snoring Appliance Work?
A snoring appliance performs the following three basic functions:
- It pushes the jaw down and forward, preventing the tongue from rolling back and obstructing the air passage.
- It enlarges the airway for smoother inhalation and exhalation.
- It keeps the airway unobstructed
Types of Snoring Appliances
Medical professionals worldwide have designed a wide range of snoring appliances, utilized by millions to overcome their snoring. Some popular types of snoring appliances are:
- Tongue retraining devices: These devices are attached to the tongue to prevent it from falling backwards and to help move it forward. This device eliminates obstructions in the airflow caused by the tongue, thus preventing snoring.
- Mandibular advancement appliances: These devices look similar to the conventional sports mouth guards. These are worn on the jaws to keep them in the correct position and to prevent them from falling back while sleeping.
- Thorton adjustable positioners: These are comparatively expensive snoring appliances that push the lower jaw forward to prevent snoring. This device prevents the tongue from rolling back and obstructing the air passage. The biggest advantage of Thorton adjustable positioners is their adjustability by the user, as per their requirement and comfort.
- Palate lifters: Also called lip lifters or lip shields, these devices help in expanding the palate. An expanded palate results in reduced vibrations in the air passage and a subsequently reduced snoring.
Advantages of Oral Snoring Appliances
Prior to the invention of oral snoring appliances, medical practitioners used the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system to curb snoring in patients. This device looks like an oxygen mask and was highly successful in curbing snoring. However, the bulky physical attachments of these systems made them inconvenient to handle and use. Also, the advanced CPAP systems are quite expensive for an average earning individual. Thus, oral snoring appliances are an improvement over CPAP in terms of their low cost and hidden placement. Other advantages of oral snoring appliances include:
- Ease of use, since users can attach and use the device themselves without any help
- Higher success rate as revealed by various medical studies
- Portability and convenience
- Safe and painless
The use of oral snoring appliances may be associated with certain side effects, such as increased salivation during the night and general discomfort. However, the advantages of oral snoring appliances far outweigh their disadvantages. For maximum effectiveness, patients must obtain their oral snoring appliance from an established dental practitioner. Dr. Gary Alhadef is a cosmetic dentist with orthodontic training and with wide experience in providing snoring relief for patients.