Mouthpieces for Sleep Apnea

For simple snoring or mild to moderate sleep apnea, a special mouthpiece may help. Your healthcare provider will diagnose your breathing problem and write a prescription for the mouthpiece. Mouthpieces are also called oral appliances. You will then be referred to a dentist qualified to make an oral appliance just for you. A follow-up sleep study checks how well the device is working for you. The dentist will then provide ongoing care to make certain your mouthpiece fits correctly and remains comfortable. Many different mouthpieces are available, so follow directions for your specific device.

Side view of head with arrow showing path of air through nasal passages into trachea. Arrows show oral appliance moving lower jaw forward.
Moving the jaw and tongue forward with a mouthpiece can open the airway to reduce sleep apnea.

Moving the jaw forward

Most mouthpieces move the jaw and tongue forward. That keeps the tongue from blocking the airway. Mouthpieces can work well. But they are not for everyone. Work with your healthcare provider to get a mouthpiece that fits just right for you. Oral appliances are usually custom made for you by a dental professional. Avoid using over-the-counter mouthpieces. They often don't work.

Tips

To have the most success with your mouthpiece, keep these tips in mind:

  • It will take some time to get used to wearing a mouthpiece. At first it may feel uncomfortable. Or make your mouth water. If these problems last, tell your healthcare provider.

  • Expect several rounds of adjustments to get the mouthpiece to fit and work just right for you.

  • Mouthpieces don’t cure the problems that cause snoring or sleep apnea. So, you need to use your mouthpiece all night, every night.

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s directions for keeping the mouthpiece clean.

  • Store your mouthpiece in its case when you're not wearing it.

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