Tongue retaining devices are a popular anti-snoring aid. They are also known as tongue stabilizing devices (TSDs). Both names provide a hint as to how the devices work.
This type of snoring solution retains the tongue, stabilizing it to prevent movement. More specifically, they stop the tongue from dropping to the back of the throat during sleep.
What Will I Learn?
The most common type of snoring is mouth snoring. The noise we make when we mouth snore is caused by the tissues at the back of the throat. If the tongue slips back during sleep it restricts airflow. This causes the tissues to vibrate.
If the relationship between snoring and vibrating tissue surprises you, think about the last time you blew a raspberry. That distinctive rasping noise happens when you use your tongue to restrict the exit of the air you are deliberately blowing out your mouth. This makes the tongue and lips vibrate.
A lot of different things can trigger snoring. Obesity is one of them. Sleep apnea is another. However, it’s really just a case of cause and effect. Although the causes are many, the effect is always the same: restricted airflow, vibrating tissue, and a whole lot of noise.
Snoring is a common problem and it doesn’t just affect the individual involved. It affects their partner as well. In fact, really loud snoring can often keep the whole household awake, placing unnecessary strain on relationships.
Wearing a tongue retaining device during sleep can be a very effective way to control snoring. If it works for you, it will allow you to enjoy better quality sleep and will do the same for your nearest and dearest too.
How Do Tongue Retaining Devices Work?
In some ways, tongue retaining devices are a very simple idea. Yet, at the same time, they are also incredibly clever. They trap the front section of the tongue, bring it forward, and, in so doing, prevent it from dropping to the back of the throat and causing snoring. The whole process is powered by suction.
Tongue retaining devices are made from silicon resin or flexible plastic. Somewhat comical in appearance, they resemble a baby’s pacifier. Or a “dummy” if you are reading this in the UK.
The devices are hollow. This allows you to place your tongue inside. Squeezing on the bulbous front section and releasing it generates the suction that keeps the tongue inside.
Apart from retaining the tongue, the device also pulls it forward of the lips.
The lower section of the device is somewhat like a boxer’s mouthguard but it’s capable of seating both sets of front teeth. This prevents you from biting your tongue while you are asleep.
Admittedly, if you sleep wearing a tongue retaining device you are going to look a little silly, but it’s an anti-snoring solution that works well for a great many people and who’s to see? Only your partner who will no doubt be overjoyed that your snoring is no longer keeping them awake.
The best tongue retaining devices are generally made from medical-quality, food-grade BPA-free resin.
Although The US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes BPA plastics do not present any health concerns, the use of such plastics remains very controversial and, in 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA in baby feeding bottles.
All the top tongue retaining device manufacturers wisely take a “play it safe” attitude and take no chances. So, even though it’s possible to import cheap plastic devices from China, this may not be the smart way to go.
Quality products, made in the US and Europe also tend to provide a more reliable level of suction while being gentler on the tongue and teeth.
Tongue Retaining Devices: the Negative Issues
Tongue retaining devices don’t cause a lot of problems, but there can be a few negative issues during the first few weeks. Like many things in life, an adjustment period is necessary. Then the body adapts and the new becomes the norm.
You have to remember, using this type of anti-snoring product essentially involves sticking your tongue out overnight. Even if you only sleep six hours per night, that’s a long time for your tongue.
Not surprisingly, first-time users may wake up with a sore tongue but it’s a temporary problem. Though, of course, if you are using a cheap device that’s made of overly-hard plastic, that’s going to present ongoing issues.
The other problem you may encounter is night drooling. Unfortunately, due to the way this type of snoring solution works, this may be something you may have to get used to.
Cost and Durability
It’s surprising how much the cost of these devices can vary. According to the American Sleep Organization, some of the options at the top end of the scale (as far as price goes) can cost as much as $490. That’s crazy money.
Fortunately, you should be able to get a good-quality tongue retaining device for $40-$100. A device of this nature should last one to two years. Even if it only lasts for a year, a $100 model will cost less than $2 per week to use.
That’s not to say this type of device is the best option for everyone who snores. Some people prefer to use a mandibular advancement device, while others find a chin strap is the best option for them. It’s a case of different strokes for different folks.
The Bottom Line
If you are presently looking for a good way to stop snoring, a tongue retaining device could be your answer. Buying a mandibular adjustment device may also be an avenue you should explore. Especially if you don’t like the idea of drooling on your pillow or sticking your tongue out all night.
In the end, the best solution will always be the one you are most comfortable with. Thousands of people all over the world use a tongue retaining device to control snoring so if you choose to do so to you will be in good company.