Around 50 percent of Americans snore, some occasionally, others every night. If you’re a snorer, you know what havoc it can wreak on your own sleep, not to mention that of your bed partner.
Snoring happens when your airways become clogged or obstructed while you sleep. This happens because the deeper you sleep, the more your muscles relax. Your mouth more easily opens, and your tongue more easily slides to the back of your mouth. This constricts your airway, and the tissues vibrate, producing snoring.
“If you’re a snorer, you know
what havoc it can wreak on your
own sleep, not to mention that
of your bed partner.
Maybe it’s time to consider
an anti-snore device.“
You may have tried sleeping on your side instead of your back, elevating your head, or other home remedies, but so far nothing has worked. You may even have tried drinking alcohol before bedtime thinking it would make you sleep sounder. That is the worst thing you could have done. Alcohol is a known muscle relaxer and it’s precisely your relaxed mouth and throat muscles that are causing your snoring.
Maybe it’s time to consider an anti-snore device.
Types of Devices
There are two basic types of mouth devices, and the American Sleep Association endorses the anti-snoring mouthpiece as being “one of the most effective anti-snoring devices options.”
One type is the Tongue Stabilizing Device (TSD) that works by bringing your tongue forward and out of your mouth and keeping it out of the way. Another type is the Mandibular Advancing Device (MAD) that works by bringing not only your tongue but also your jaw, forward.
Some people find TSDs preferable to MADs because they don’t cause jaw discomfort. However, other people don’t like the position in which the TSD holds their tongue and also find that wearing a TSD increases the amount of saliva in their mouth, leading to drooling during the night.
MADs look similar to sports mouthpieces and anti-bruxism – teeth grinding and/or jaw clenching – devices, but are different from both even though they tend to feel the same. Denture wearers and people with missing teeth can’t use a MAD since it relies on teeth that grip the mandible (jaw bone) in order to move it forward.
TSDs usually are one size fits all. They are over-the-counter (OTC) products that you use right out of the box. MADs provide a more customized fit and require fitting to your mouth and jaw. While some of them are fitted by a dentist, many of them are OTC products that you fit yourself by boiling them in water for a few seconds to soften them, cooling them for a few seconds so you won’t get burned, and then placing them in your mouth and biting down on them. Once the MAD cools completely, it hardens to the extent that it now fits your mouth and only your mouth. If you didn’t get the MAD properly fitted on your first try, most of them can be refitted by repeating the boil-and-bite process.
Some MADs come with a tool such as a small allen wrench by which they can be further adjusted by turning the wrench to move the MAD’s mandibular part forward or backward. The more forward the lower part is, the more effective the MAD is, but also the less comfortable it is for the wearer. Finding the “sweet spot” between comfort and effectiveness can take some time.
The reason why MADs can be fitted is because they’re made of polycarbonates, rubbery plastics with some “give” to them. Often these polycarbonates contain bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that has been used since the 1960s to make storage containers for food and beverages. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that BPA is safe at the low levels sometimes found in food due to seepage from the cans and bottles in which it is stored.
The Mayo Clinic, however, warns that some research shows that BPA exposure can have possible negative health effects on the brain and prostate gland, as well as negative behavioral effects. Many of today’s MADs avoid the use of latex and other plastic materials that contain BPA. Make sure you know what’s in the MADs you’re considering.
MAD Facts and Fictions
Some MADs have a built-in tongue stabilizer; others have one or more snoring holes. OTC MADs usually cost $30-$100, but the ones professionally fitted by a dentist can cost $500-$1,000.
Depending on the type of MAD you buy, you can expect it to last for at least a year and some can last for several years. If you’re a teeth grinder or jaw clencher, remember that a MAD will not solve these problems and will itself wear down faster due to the excessive pressure you put on it. Also remember that if you have missing teeth or dentures, MADs are not for you.
While many MADs are OTC, some do require a physician’s prescription since they’re regulated by the FDA as Class II devices; i.e. treatment devices. If you’re a mouth-breather, there are MDAs specifically made with you in mind.
Some people are hesitant to get an anti-snoring device because they think sleeping with a MAD is dangerous, causes their teeth to shift or move, and that surgery a better option. However, snoring surgery can have limited success and anti-snoring devices are often a better solution. Since MADs are cost-effective, they can be tested before considering surgery.
Caring for Your MAD
Always keep your MAD in its protective container when not in use and keep the container somewhere safe from pets. Since some dogs, particularly teething puppies, have been known to chew on a cell phone or remote control, you certainly don’t want your puppy chewing on your MAD!
While there are special cleaning fluids available for washing your MAD, simply rinsing it under running tap water while brushing it with a gentle toothbrush will dislodge any mouth particles it has collected and prevents bacteria or fungus from growing on it.
Unless you suffer from sleep apnea or have missing teeth or wear dentures, an anti-snoring mouth device is a real option for you to consider. Thousands of snorers have found them to be the most effective way to reduce or even eliminate that awful nightly ritual that disturbs not only your own sleep but also that of your bed partner.
Do you or a loved one suffer from snoring issues?
Have you used or considered using an anti-snoring device?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.