Do Mouth Guards Work for Snoring? What You Should Know

Do Mouth Guards Work for Snoring? What You Should Know

Posted by A/Prof Dr Jack Gerschman on

Snoring is more prevalent today than it’s ever been. Health professionals and health companies have been working for decades to develop effective solutions to snoring (read our story here). Today, there is a plethora of anti-snoring devices on the market claiming to stop or reduce snoring. With so many snoring solutions available, it’s challenging to understand which one is the best.

One of the most common and accessible options is snoring mouthguards. But do they work? And how do they compare to other options? Read on to find out how snoring mouthguards and mouthpieces work and if they actually stop snoring.

Quick Summary

  • Yes, mouth guards can be effective in reducing snoring. They work by repositioning the lower jaw or holding the tongue forward to keep the airway open, thereby reducing the vibrations that cause snoring.
  • There are two main types: Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs) and Tongue Retaining Devices (TRDs). Both types can significantly decrease snoring, but they do not necessarily fix the underlying causes.
  • The Happy Sleep anti-snoring mouthpiece  uses a unique design that is clinically proven to reduce snoring effectively and comfortably. 
  • Snoring affects about 40% of men and around 30% of women in some form (Sleep Health Foundation).
  • If you’re overweight, a middle-aged or older man, or a postmenopausal woman, you’re more prone to snoring.
  • Snoring can be a sign of underlying conditions and sleep disorders, including sleep apnoea, which can be quite serious.
  • If you’re experiencing significant daytime fatigue or your snoring becomes so loud that your partner complains - especially if they notice gasping noises, pausing, or stoppages in breathing - consult a health professional.

What is Snoring?

When we sleep, our upper airway muscles become relaxed and partially collapse. Snoring happens when these muscles relax to the point of partially blocking the airway. This blockage in the upper airway makes the soft palate vibrate, creating the sound of snoring. Kind of like how letting air out of a balloon will cause the opening to flutter, but in reverse.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Chronic, moderate-to-severe snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnea - a respiratory disorder that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. There are two main types: obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and central sleep apnoea (CSA). OSA occurs when throat muscles relax too much, completely blocking the airway. CSA happens when the brain doesn’t send the right signals to the breathing muscles. If you think you have sleep apnoea, consult a sleep specialist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan as it can lead to serious health consequences.

Causes of Snoring

There are several reasons why people snore. Some common causes include:

  • Obstructed Airways: due to allergies, sinus infections, or having a deviated septum (a crooked partition between your nostrils).

  • Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to collapse to the back of your throat, leading to snoring.

  • Obesity or excess weight: Bulky throat tissue in the neck area can cause a narrowing of the airway and worsen snoring.

  • Weak muscle tone in the throat and tongue: This can be a natural result of aging, and alcohol/medications can further relax these muscles.

  • Pregnancy: Surging hormones can cause swelling of tissue in the nose, leading to congestion and snoring.

  • Anatomical problems such as a crooked nasal septum, long palate or uvula, which can narrow the airway.

  • Nasal obstruction: From allergies, colds, sinus infections, or nasal polyps that block breathing.

  • Alcohol and sedative medications: These relax the muscles supporting the airway, exacerbating snoring.

  • Smoking may contribute to upper airway inflammation and edema, increasing snoring.

  • Chronic nasal congestion: From allergies, infections or anatomical issues, reducing airflow.

  • The most serious cause is obstructive sleep apnoea, where the airway repeatedly becomes blocked during sleep, leading to health risks if left untreated

Health Implications of Snoring

Mild to moderate snoring isn’t especially dangerous on its own, at least in the short-term. But it can be a sign of underlying health conditions, can impact your sleep quality, and really annoy your sleep partner. Long-term, chronic snoring that interferes with your sleep can contribute to low blood oxygen levels, exhaustion, headaches, and an elevated risk of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Snoring is also a sign that you are mouth-breathing while you sleep, which, believe it or not, has health implications of its own.

Breathing through your mouth can dry out your gums and the tissue that lines your mouth. This can change the natural bacteria in your mouth, leading to gum disease or tooth decay. It can also worsen symptoms of other illnesses or make it more likely for you to develop an illness. There’s even evidence that breathing through your nose vs mouth changes the structure of your face.

When does snoring become serious enough to require a visit to a doctor or sleep specialist?

It’s time to see a sleep specialist to treat snoring when it regularly disturbs your sleep to the point of:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, or difficulty concentrating. ,

  • You have other symptoms like morning headaches, dry mouth, or irritability that could be related to disrupted sleep from snoring.

  • Lifestyle changes like losing weight, avoiding alcohol before bed, or sleeping on your side do not reduce your snoring.

  • If your snoring is accompanied by symptoms like restless sleep, shortness of breath, chest pain at night, or high blood pressure, which may indicate an underlying condition.

  • Your snoring becomes so loud that your partner complains - especially if they notice gasping noises, pausing, or stoppages in breathing - a sure sign of sleep apnoea.

How Mouth Guards Work for Snoring

Specially designed snoring mouthguards help alleviate snoring by addressing the physical causes of the problem. Two types of mouth guards dominate the market. Here’s how they work:

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)

These devices push your lower jaw forward. This forward movement helps to keep the airway open by preventing the throat tissues from collapsing and blocking it. When the airway is clear, air can flow freely, which reduces the vibrations that cause snoring sounds.

Tongue Retaining Devices (TRDs)

These devices hold the tongue in a forward position. By keeping the tongue from falling back into the throat, they also help keep the airway open and limits snoring.

Which mouth guard is right for you will depend on the exact causes of your snoring and your health history. Eg. if you’ve had problems with your jaw before, then MAD’s might exacerbate that issue.

Over-the-Counter Mouthguards

Over-the-counter (OTC) anti snoring mouthguards are readily available without a prescription. These mouth guards vary from brand to brand and offer different features and fitments. For example, if you have a smaller mouth, there are fewer small mouthpiece options out there designed for this mouth shape.

The more expensive off-the-shelf guards typically come with some form of adjustment for a somewhat custom fit. Some will send you a kit to take impressions of your teeth, which you send back, and they will then make a semi-custom mouth guard. This process can take a few weeks up to a month.

Over-the-counter devices are a convenient and cost-effective treatment option for those looking to treat snoring on a limited budget. Prices range anywhere from $20 up to $200. Though we wouldn’t recommend the cheapest stuff - you are putting this in your mouth for long periods of time after all.

Custom-Made Mouth Guards

Custom dental mouthguard device

Custom-made anti-snoring mouthguards are individually designed and made for your mouth and teeth structure, ensuring a perfect fit. As they are designed specifically for your mouth and your symptoms, they are generally more effective than off-the-shelf devices for treating snoring, teeth grinding, and sleep apnea symptoms. But this comes with a cost. Both in terms of time - requiring you to make multiple visits to a dentist or a sleep specialist, and in terms of a much higher price tag.

Choosing the Right Mouth Guard

Factors to Consider

The mouth guard should fit well and be comfortable to wear all night. An ill-fitting mouth guard can cause discomfort and make you less likely to use it, defeating the purpose of buying it in the first place.

Look for mouth guards made from high-quality, medical-grade materials. These will be more durable, easier to keep clean and sterile, and also more comfortable.

Mouth guards can range in price. Over-the-counter options are less expensive than custom-made ones. Consider your budget, but also think about the effectiveness and comfort of the mouth guard.

Choose a mouth guard that is easy to clean. This is important for maintaining good oral hygiene and prolonging the life of the device.

Recommendations

Here are some tips to help you choose the best mouth guard for your needs:

Look for reviews and testimonials from other users. This can give you a good idea of the effectiveness and comfort of different mouth guards.

Talk to your dentist or a sleep specialist. They can provide recommendations based on your specific needs and help ensure you get a good fit.

If possible, try a few different types of mouth guards to see which one works best for you.

Look for mouth guards that have been clinically tested and proven to work. You also want to make sure that they were developed by experts in the field of sleep medicine.

The Happy Sleep Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece

The Happy Sleep Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece is designed to minimise common issues with most brands of mouth guards:

Minimal Jaw Advancement: Unlike other devices that push the jaw forward significantly, the Happy Sleep mouthpiece advances the jaw minimally. This helps open the airway without over-extending the jaw, making it more comfortable to wear and less likely to lead to TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction).

Flexible Jaw Support Flap: The jaw support flap holds your jaw in place without causing strain, helping to prevent jaw pain. It also stops the device from falling out during sleep

Cushioned Comfort: Made from soft, flexible, medically used materials, the mouthpiece is comfortable for your teeth and gums, reducing the likelihood of soreness.

Sizes Available: With both regular and small sizes, you can choose the one that fits best, ensuring better comfort and effectiveness.

Breathing Airway: Happy Sleep is designed to enhance nasal breathing. Breathing through your nose rather than your mouth can significantly reduce snoring. There’s also evidence that breathing through your nose has major health benefits. For example, we can extract about 20 percent more oxygen breathing through our noses than we can through our mouths. The nose also plays an important role in your immune system, filtering out dust, allergens, bacteria and even protects against viruses.

Easy to Use and Clean: The mouthpiece comes with a wash basket for easy cleaning and storage, making it convenient to use every night.

Clinically Proven: Backed by clinical trials and designed by sleep medicine expert, Associate Professor Dr. Jack Gerschman, the Happy Sleep mouthpiece has been shown to significantly reduce snoring.

Benefits and Effectiveness of Mouth Guards

Health Benefits

Using a mouth guard for snoring can improve your health in several ways:

Better Breathing: Mouth guards help keep your airway open, allowing you to breathe more easily while you sleep. This means you get more oxygen which is essential for staying healthy.

Reduced Risk of Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a serious condition where you stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Mouth guards can help prevent this by keeping your airway open, reducing the risk of sleep apnea and its associated health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease.

Improved Sleep Quality: When you breathe better and stop snoring, you and your partner can enjoy a more restful sleep. This means you wake up feeling more refreshed and less tired during the day.

Quality of Life Improvements

Using a mouth guard can also make a big difference in your everyday life:

More Energy: Better sleep means you have more energy during the day. You’ll feel more awake and ready to take on your daily activities.

Better Relationships: Snoring can be frustrating for your partner and can cause unnecessary tension in your relationship. By reducing or stopping your snoring, you can help your partner sleep better too, which can lead to a happier and more peaceful relationship.

Increased Productivity: When you’re well-rested, you can focus better and be more productive at school, work, or in other activities.

Potential Side Effects of Mouth Guards

While mouth guards can be very effective for reducing snoring, there are some potential drawbacks and side effects to consider:

Discomfort and Adjustment Period: It can take some time to get used to wearing a mouth guard. At first, it might feel uncomfortable, and you might have a bit of soreness in your jaw or teeth.

Jaw Pain: Some people experience jaw pain or stiffness when they start using a mouth guard. This is because the devices often change the position of your lower jaw, which can cause strain on the muscles and joints.

Teeth Alignment Issues: In rare cases, long-term use of a mouth guard can affect the alignment of your teeth. This is more likely if the device does not fit properly.

Mitigating Side Effects

There are ways to reduce or avoid these potential issues. Start by wearing the mouth guard for short periods while you are awake to get used to the feeling. Gradually increase the amount of time you wear it during the night. Make sure to follow the fitting and usage instructions provided with your mouth guard. Proper fitting is crucial to ensure comfort and effectiveness.

When to Consult a Professional

If you experience any of the following issues, it’s important to seek professional advice:

Persistent Jaw Pain: If the pain doesn’t go away after a few days of use,

Severe Discomfort: If the mouth guard is causing significant discomfort that affects your ability to sleep

Changes in Teeth Alignment: If you notice any changes in the way your teeth align

Alternatives to Mouth Guards for Snoring

While mouth guards offer a cost-effective treatment, they might not be suitable for everyone.

Other Anti-Snoring Devices

CPAP Machines: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines are often used to treat sleep apnea. They work by providing a steady stream of air through a mask, keeping your airway open while you sleep.

However, many patients cannot tolerate CPAP therapy, so the next step is using a custom dental device. These devices typically bring the lower jaw significantly forward to open up the airway. While this approach can help, unfortunately, it can also create many side effects such as TMD.

Nasal Strips and Dilators: You place these products on your nose to help keep your nasal passages open. By improving airflow through your nose, they can reduce snoring.

Positional Therapy Devices: Some people snore more when they sleep on their back. Positional therapy devices help keep you sleeping on your side, which can reduce snoring.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to using devices, making some lifestyle changes can also help reduce snoring:

Weight Loss: Being overweight can contribute to snoring because extra tissue around your neck can press down on your airway. Losing weight can reduce this pressure and help you breathe more easily at night.

Avoiding Alcohol and Smoking: Alcohol relaxes the muscles in your throat, which can lead to snoring. Smoking can also irritate your airway and increase snoring. Avoiding these substances, especially before bed, can help reduce snoring.

Sleep Hygiene Tips: Practicing good sleep habits can improve your overall sleep quality and reduce snoring. This includes maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding large meals or caffeine before bed.

Combining Methods

For most people, using a combination of methods works best. For example, using a mouth guard along with making lifestyle changes can provide better results than using either method alone.

Do Mouth Guards Actually Work for Snoring?

If your definition is to completely stop snoring and the underlying conditions that cause snoring, then not quite. But a good medical-grade anti-snoring mouth guard can absolutely reduce the severity and frequency of snoring, sometimes eliminating it completely while wearing the device. Even if they only reduce your snoring to levels that won’t wake a sleep partner, the improvement in sleep quality and reduction in relationship stress makes them absolutely worth it.

We believe the Happy Sleep Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece is the best solution for snoring sufferers who have tried other options and don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars on a custom mouth guard at a dentist. It offers a balance of comfort and effectiveness that can be used on its own or in combination with other methods for a restful night’s sleep.

Many people have found success with the Happy Sleep Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece:

Julie P: “The Happy Sleep mouthpiece has been very successful in reducing my snoring by a massive amount. My partner no longer complains that I’m waking him up throughout the night so I’m really pleased with my purchase and wish I’d heard about it before!”

Michael B: “It’s more comfortable than other devices I’ve tried. It holds the lower jaw in line with the upper jaw, preventing the tongue from slipping back into the throat.”

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