Sleep Apnea Mouthguards: Types, Benefits, and How They Work

oral care mandibular device for sleep apnea 2022 11 08 05 25 37 utc

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder affecting a significant number of individuals globally. Left untreated, it can lead to a plethora of health complications, such as daytime fatigue, heart disease, and hypertension. While treatments for sleep apnea have traditionally centered around continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, there are many alternative options available for those seeking a less intrusive approach. One such option is the use of sleep apnea mouthguards.

At Sleep Better Live Better, our sleep doctors in Vancouver are committed to helping you find the healthiest and most effective sleep solutions for your particular needs. In this blog post, we will delve into the realm of sleep apnea mouthguards, examining how they work, the various types available, and the benefits they can provide for those experiencing sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea mouthguards, also referred to as oral appliances, offer a non-invasive and effective treatment option for many individuals suffering from mild to moderate sleep apnea. Designed to keep the airway open and prevent its collapse during sleep, these devices function by either repositioning the lower jaw or holding the tongue forward. As a result, sleep apnea mouthguards can help reduce the frequency and severity of sleep-disordered breathing events, thus improving sleep quality and alleviating related symptoms.

In the sections that follow, we will discuss the types of sleep apnea mouthguards, how they serve to address sleep apnea symptoms, the process of obtaining a custom-fitted mouthguard, and the importance of working with a qualified dental professional to ensure optimal treatment outcomes. If you’re exploring options to improve your sleep and overall health, a sleep apnea mouthguard may be just the solution you’ve been searching for.

Types of Sleep Apnea Mouthguards

Sleep apnea mouthguards are available in two main varieties: mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue-retaining devices (TRDs). Both types aim to prevent airway collapse and alleviate sleep apnea symptoms. Below, we explore the differences between these two options.

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)

MADs are the most common form of sleep apnea mouthguards and are designed to gently push the lower jaw forward. By repositioning the jaw, MADs open up the airway and reduce the risk of obstruction during sleep. Mandibular advancement devices typically come with adjustable components allowing for a personalized fit and ensuring maximum comfort.

Tongue-Retaining Devices (TRDs)

TRDs are an alternative option for individuals who may not be suitable candidates for MADs. These mouthguards work by holding the tongue in place, preventing it from sliding back and obstructing the airway during sleep. TRDs do not require any adjustments in jaw positioning, making them a suitable choice for individuals with temporomandibular joint dysfunction or other jaw-related issues.

Benefits of Sleep Apnea Mouthguards

Sleep apnea mouthguards offer several advantages over traditional treatment options, such as CPAP therapy. The following benefits make them an attractive choice for many individuals seeking effective sleep apnea treatment alternatives.


Many patients find sleep apnea mouthguards more comfortable to wear compared to a CPAP mask, which can feel claustrophobic and restrictive. Custom-fitted mouthguards are designed to fit comfortably and snugly in the mouth, ensuring minimal discomfort.


Oral appliances are lightweight, compact, and easy to transport, making them an ideal choice for frequent travelers. Unlike CPAP machines, mouthguards do not require any electrical power source, so you can continue your treatment even while camping or outdoors.

Ease of Use and Maintenance

Sleep apnea mouthguards are relatively simple to use and maintain. They can be effortlessly inserted and removed and typically require only routine cleaning with a toothbrush or gentle cleaning solution.

Fewer Side Effects

CPAP therapy can sometimes lead to side effects such as nasal congestion, dry mouth, and skin irritation from masks. In comparison, sleep apnea mouthguards have fewer associated side effects and complications.

Obtaining a Custom-Fitted Sleep Apnea Mouthguard

A custom sleep apnea mouthguard can provide maximum comfort and effectiveness for individuals seeking to improve their sleep and alleviate sleep apnea symptoms. The process of obtaining one typically involves the following steps:

  1. Consult with a qualified dental professional: A dental professional experienced in sleep medicine will evaluate your oral structures, dental history, and sleep apnea conditions to determine if a mouthguard is suitable for you.
  2. Create a dental impression: If you are deemed a suitable candidate, your dental professional will take a precise impression of your teeth. This impression will be used to fabricate a custom-fitted mouthguard tailored to your unique dental anatomy.
  3. Fitting and adjustments: Once your custom mouthguard is ready, your dental professional will ensure it fits well and is properly adjusted to optimize its effectiveness in treating your sleep apnea.
  4. Follow-up appointments: Regular follow-up appointments with your dental professional are crucial to ensure the ongoing success of your treatment. These visits allow for monitoring your progress, adjusting the mouthguard as needed, and addressing any potential concerns or issues.

The Role of a Qualified Dental Professional

Working closely with a qualified dental professional is essential in ensuring the success of your sleep apnea mouthguard treatment. A dental professional with experience in sleep medicine will help guide you through the process, from assessing your unique needs to fabricating your custom mouthguard and adjusting for optimal comfort and effectiveness. Your dental professional will also provide valuable education and support in using, cleaning, and maintaining your oral appliance, ensuring a smooth and successful treatment experience.


Sleep apnea mouthguards offer a comfortable, portable, and effective alternative to traditional sleep apnea treatments such as CPAP therapy. Whether you choose a mandibular advancement device or a tongue-retaining device, working closely with a qualified dental professional is crucial to obtaining a custom-fitted mouthguard and achieving optimal treatment outcomes. If you’re seeking an alternative sleep apnea treatment or wish to explore your options further, our team of sleep doctors at Sleep Better Live Better in Vancouver is here to support you on your journey to better sleep and improved overall health.