Using a tongue stabilizer for sleep apnea

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If you find that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment for snoring and sleep apnea isn't working for you, you may be looking for another option. Treating these conditions is very important as they can have dangerous health consequences. In addition to various oral devices that change the position of the lower jaw, there is another option called a tongue stabilizer device. How does this mouthpiece work? Find out if language stabilization devices are right for you.

Brandon Peters, MD

What is a language stabilizer?

The tongue stabilizer device (TSD) is touted as an alternative treatment for snoring and sleep apnea with oral aids. This is a small piece of plastic that is placed against your lips and resembles a large nipple with a hole that you can insert your tongue into. When worn, it can hold your tongue forward, which can alleviate snoring or sleep apnea that occurs when the airway is blocked . Two of the most popular models are the AveoTSD and Good Morning Snore Solution devices.

Who would have thought to use one?

A tongue stabilizer device may be a desirable treatment option if you cannot tolerate standard treatments for sleep apnea, such as CPAP. This can be especially helpful if the airways are blocked by a large tongue (called macroglossia). It must be properly installed by a healthcare professional, usually your primary care physician or dentist.

Not everyone can use TSD. You should be able to stick your tongue behind your teeth to secure the device in place. If your tongue can't stick out high enough, this may not work. In particular, some people with an intact frenulum (the connective tissue that holds the tongue to the base of the mouth) may not be able to use TSD. It is not recommended for children , who often have unique causes for their conditions, such as allergies, enlarged tonsils, and facial anatomy, that can contribute to the problem.

It is an ineffective treatment for central sleep apnea , but experts are conducting research to change this.

Posible problems

TSD should be rinsed off with hot water before applying it to the tongue. This will make the plastic more flexible and secure. However, some complain that the device shuts down at night. This can be especially true if it doesn't fit well.

This may not be the only difficulty you face when using TSD. Some users complain that it creates an unpleasant sensation on the tip of the tongue. It can also lead to increased salivation and even salivation . However , others report having trouble swallowing (due to the change in the position of the tongue). You may also notice a slight discoloration of the tongue with use.

If you find it difficult to breathe with the device installed, do not use it.

Care and Cleaning

It is very important to clean the TSD every day with hot water to avoid contamination and minimize unpleasant odors. You may find it helpful to clean it with a denture cleaner weekly or monthly. Do not clean it with mouthwash, as the alcohol in the mouthwash can dry out the plastic and damage the TSD. Also, when not in use, store it in a cool, dry place in a container.

If you are having problems with CPAP and would like to try alternative oral devices, talk to your doctor about trying a tongue stabilizer device. It may also be wise to do a sleep study on it to make sure the mouthpiece is properly treating your condition.

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