Snorers and sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) alike can spend countless hours researching the best solution, thousands of dollars trying different products and years of their lives not being able to sleep properly. One of the more common questions is whether an anti-snoring mouthpiece can act as a replacement for a CPAP machine. We will take a deeper look at that question below.
Why Not Use A CPAP Machine?
If you have never had a CPAP machine and if you don’t have insurance coverage that will pay the full amount, the initial cost may be extremely prohibitive. CPAP machines can range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars and aside from that there are a whole series of accessories that you may feel pressured to purchase so that you can take full advantage of your machine.
Another reason to not use a CPAP machine is claustrophobia or a sense of being suffocated. This is an extremely common complaint amongst new users on sleep apnea forums and some users talk about needing 4 or 5 months to adjust to using the machine. As it is designed to force air into you while you sleep, some people find the mask restrictive, the hose obstructive and the overall experience to be very uncomfortable and even embarrassing.
In Mouth Alternatives to the CPAP
There are 2 main categories of in mouth alternatives to the CPAP. The Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) and the Tongue Stabilizing Device (TSD). The MAD is a mouthpiece that is similar to a sports style mouth guard. It uses leverage to hold your lower jaw in a forward sitting position that allows your airway to stay open while you sleep which is a common cause of snoring and sleep apnea. The TSD is designed to keep your tongue from falling in the back of your mouth which is another common cause of blocked airways that lead to snoring and sleep apnea.
While the effects of the TSD and the MAD are different, the TSD takes up much less room in your mouth. Both of these items can be prescribed by your doctor but if you don’t have insurance they can cost an upwards of $1500. This doesn’t include the cost in time and money of several doctor visits for checkups and adjustments.
While some insurance plans cover these expenses, many won’t cover them despite proven studies and results. When you are looking at paying $1500 or more out of pocket to solve this problem, it is not uncommon to start looking for alternatives and options can be found in non-prescription snoring mouthpieces that are available online.
Is There Really A Difference Between The Non-Prescription Snoring Mouthpieces And The Prescription Sleep Apnea Mouthpieces?
As the characteristics of non-prescription mouthpieces vary considerably, it is difficult to state exact differences. Generally the prescription units are sturdier and are built with a higher quality resin, that is form fitted to you from molds taken of your teeth before they are made specifically for you.
They also have the advantage of multiple visits with a health specialist that will adjust them until they fit just right, ensure their effectiveness and overcome for issues such as teeth movement.
The non-prescription snoring mouthpieces mimic the apnea mouthpieces in appearance and function, but there are differences. Since they are mass manufactured; the best fit you can get is using thermoplastic resins that you “boil and bite”.
Certain units can be adjusted in small increments but without a doctor checking the effectiveness the results are not as reliable.
The non-prescription TSD versions are almost identical to the prescription units but the biggest difference is in the fact that they are not designed for sleep apnea. They are designed for benign snoring with no apnea. These devices are available online and they are self-fitted. Self-fitting a TSD can lead to some issues.
Since the TSD uses suction to hold your tongue in place, there can be issues of a “tingly tongue” if you have too much suction. Other issues can range from sore gums to excessive drooling, but these usually diminish over time. People who experiment with using TSDs and MADs to overcome sleep apnea have mixed results.
When ordering these devices online, many manufacturers will require that you fill out a questionnaire before allowing you to make the purchase to ensure that your oral health is up to par. The use of bridges or full dentures, excessively sensitive gums and certain illnesses may lead to manufacturers not selling to you as these companies need to avoid any legal issues that may come up from improper use of the device.
Is It Possible To Treat Sleep Apnea With A Non-Prescription Mouthpiece?
Considering that non-prescription snoring mouthpieces cost a fraction of anything prescription based, many people look for the answer that can save them money. The answer really depends on what is causing your sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can be caused by issues with the tongue, the throat, nasal cavity, excessive weight or even with the way your brain communicates with your body while sleeping. Each cause can mean a different style of treatment. This is why it is so essential that you visit your doctor to discover the source of your sleep apnea and begin to treat it accordingly.
Some people prefer to have all of the answers before taking the first step and will visit multiple doctors, research endlessly, participate in sleep studies, monitor themselves extensively and be almost certain before taking the first step. Some people prefer to try a cheapest to the most expensive approach of solving the problem.
Everybody has a slightly different way of approaching the task of overcoming sleep apnea but the one thing you can be sure of, if you want the least expensive way to ATTEMPT to overcome sleep apnea; the online purchase of a MAD or TSD mouthpieces is the obvious place to start.
What is certain is that if you are going to attempt a non-prescription device you should with consult your health professional first to ensure that your specific case won’t cause any potential complications with the use of the device you choose.
If you want the highest quality answer, a medical professional is the best place to start your journey. Some doctors are quite open to the idea of internet ordered devices to treat mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea when the situation calls for it.
Other doctors prefer only to use prescription models and their reasoning can range from financial gain, to a true belief in the device they are offering. Doctors can vary considerably in their diagnosis and their belief in certain products, so you may decide to check with more than one doctor before making your decision.
Remember that if you don’t know what is causing your snoring or if you suffer from sleep apnea, you are rolling the dice on whether the device you are purchasing will actually work. You may get helpful feedback from your partner, or even from apps on your smartphone.
There’re Apps For Sleep Issues!
Technology has allowed us to use the wide variety of sensors, microphones and data logging available on just about every smartphone on the market to be put towards the noble cause of tracking our sleep and helping to move towards official diagnoses of sleep related issues.
For the iPhone
Sleep Assess is a fantastic app for understanding your condition. It will determine whether you are suffering from sleep apnea based on whether you are snoring, waking up tired and other factors. If you have a suspicion that you might be suffering from sleep apnea, this app is a must. Once you determine that you might have apnea, a doctor’s visit is the next step.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, the app Sleep Apnea Monitor can help you monitor your condition. It monitors various data points that can help you figure out just how severe your condition is and if the device you are using is actually helping you.
Sleep as Android can track every part of your sleep including when you wake up, how many times you wake up, how often you are snoring, how long it takes you to start snoring and more. It can also help you wake up in the morning with challenging alarm silencing. You can take the information in this app and work through it with a doctor to determine if you need further testing or if you are free from apnea.
Do I Have To Replace My CPAP Or Can I Use A Mouthpiece As An Extra Measure?
People who use CPAPs have been experimenting under doctor supervision with the utilization of a combined approach. They may use a non-prescription mouthpiece AND the CPAP. May have seen positive results using TSDs and have found that the pressure that their CPAP functions at can be lowered by using a mouthpiece.
This combined approach is something that must be carefully monitored by you and your doctor. There should be a good look at the data points to ensure that the combination is effective.
The combined approach has led some people to reach a zero apnea situation where they are completely cleared of their apnea and their CPAP runs at a lower pressure. The use of a TSD vs a MAD depends on your condition and deciding on which item to use should be discussed with your doctor as you go through this process.
As some people go suffer from sleep apnea do to obesity, they find as they go through the process of weight loss, they can go from a combined approach and transition into using only mouthpieces. Sometimes after the weight loss is complete, they can completely stop suffering from sleep apnea and snoring.
I Want To Leave My CPAP Behind. Am I Ready?
If you have done your research, spoken to your doctor and you are in agreement that a trial of pure mouthpiece treatment is a viable option, then it is probably a good idea to go through our comprehensive comparison chart of different mouthpieces found HERE (add hyperlink).
This chart shows you all of the major differences in the available products and will help you and your doctor greatly in choosing the piece that is best for your needs.
The goal behind all of this research and testing is to get an excellent night’s sleep, wake up refreshed and do it all over again the next night. It can seem like a daunting task to go through all of this, but the price you pay for not being well rested can be extremely high.
In the world of snoring and sleep apnea there is no simple “yes” or “no” answer as to whether the purchase of a non-prescription mouthpiece is right for you.
The answer to this question should NOT be answered in online articles. It should be answered by you, your needs and your doctor’s input. What we all hope is that there is the ideal solution out there for us.
One of the good and affordable mouthguards for sleep apnea is the SleepPro Custom.
It has been proven in clinical trials to help with sleep apnea. While this device has helped many people, there is no guarantee that you will see the same results. However, it lets you sleep without using pressurized air, uncomfortable hoses or constrictive masks from a CPAP. Best of all, it requires no prescription and costs much less than prescription MADs.
Official site: www.sleepprointernational.com
Which Product Should I Choose?
Every person has a unique mouth and needs, so one that is perfect for one person may not be the best option for another.
There are well over 100 products on the market, so making a decision can be quite daunting.
You will find a lot of helpful information in the comparison chart, and I have written reviews of several products.
If you would rather not spend a lot of time reading reviews, please consult my article titled “My Mouthpiece Recommendation”. I have compiled a list of three products that I believe are the best options, based on my experience.