Breaking Down the Science: How a Sleep Apnoea Mouth Guard Works

Do you wake up gasping for air in the middle of the night? Do you feel exhausted during the day, even after a whole night? These could be signs of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder affecting millions of Australians.

Sleep apnea disrupts breathing throughout the night, leading to oxygen deprivation and a cascade of health problems. The good news is that effective treatments are available, and for some people, aΒ sleep apnea mouth guard can be a game-changer.

Understanding Sleep Apnoea

There are three main types of sleep apnoea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA): The most common type, OSA, occurs when the muscles in your throat relax too much during sleep, causing the airway to collapse and block airflow.
  • Central sleep apnoea: This less common type happens when the brain fails to signal to the muscles that control breathing.
  • Mixed sleep apnoea:Β  A combination of obstructive and central sleep apnoea.

OSA is the focus for sleep apnoea mouth guards, and its symptoms can include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Witnessed breathing pauses during sleep
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, it’s crucial to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. A sleep study will determine the severity of your condition and the best course of action.

How Can a Sleep Apnoea Mouth Guard Help?

Sleep apnea mouth guards, also called oral appliance therapy, are custom-made devices worn in the mouth during sleep. They work by gently repositioning the jaw or tongue to keep the airway open.

There are two main types of sleep apnoea mouth guards:

  • Mandibular advancement devices (MADs): These look similar to a sports mouth guard and hold your lower jaw forward, widening the airway.
  • Tongue-retaining devices:Β  These less common devices hold your tongue in a more forward position to prevent it from blocking the airway.

Benefits of Using a Sleep Apnoea Mouth Guard

Compared to the traditional treatment for sleep apnoea, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, sleep apnoea mouth guards offer several advantages:

  • Comfort: Due to the mask and air pressure, many people find CPAP machines uncomfortable. Sleep apnoea mouth guards are a more discreet and comfortable option.
  • Portability:Β  Mouth guards are small and easy to carry, making them ideal for travel.
  • Compliance: Studies show some people find mouthguards easier to tolerate and use consistently compared to CPAP machines.
  • Noise: CPAP machines can be noisy, disrupting sleep for yourself and your partner. Mouth guards are silent.

Who is a Candidate for a Sleep Apnoea Mouth Guard?

Sleep apnoea mouth guards are not suitable for everyone. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Severity of sleep apnoea:Β  Mouth guards are typically most effective for mild to moderate OSA. For severe cases, a CPAP machine may be necessary.
  • Jaw anatomy:Β  The shape and size of your jaw will influence whether a mouth guard can effectively open your airway.
  • Medical conditions:Β  Certain medical conditions might make mouth guard therapy unsuitable.
  • Dental health: You will need healthy teeth and gums to support the mouth guard.

Getting Fitted for a Sleep Apnoea Mouth Guard

Suppose your doctor determines a sleep apnoea mouth guard is a good option for you. In that case, they will refer you to a sleep dentistry specialist. The dentist will take impressions of your teeth and create a custom-made mouth guard that fits comfortably and effectively.

Living With a Sleep Apnoea Mouth Guard

Like any new device, it may take some time to adjust to wearing a sleep apnoea mouth guard. Here are some tips for success:

  • Wear it consistently: Aim to wear your mouth guard every night for optimal results.
  • Cleaning:Β  Clean your mouth guard daily with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Follow-up appointments:Β  Regular check-ups with your dentist are essential to ensure proper fit and address any concerns.


Sleep apnoea mouth guards offer a safe and effective treatment option for many people suffering from mild to moderate sleep apnoea. Talk to your doctor if you’re struggling with sleep and suspect sleep apnea. Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve your quality of life and overall health.

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