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Mouthpieces for Sleep Apnea

For simple snoring or mild to moderate apnea, a special mouthpiece may help. A dental specialist works with your healthcare provider to build and fit a mouthpiece just for you. A follow-up sleep study checks how well the device is working for you. Mouthpieces are also called oral appliances.

Cross section side view of head showing mouthpiece fitting over teeth. Mouthpiece causes jaw and tongue to move forward. Arrow shows air flowing freely through nose and throat.
Moving the jaw and tongue forward with a mouthpiece can open the airway to reduce sleep apnea.

Moving the jaw forward

Most mouthpieces move the jaw and tongue forward. That keeps the tongue from blocking the airway. Mouthpieces can work well, but they are not for everyone. Work with your healthcare provider to get a mouthpiece that fits just right for you. Oral appliances are usually custom made for you by a dental professional. Avoid using over-the-counter mouthpieces—they often don't work.


To have the most success with your mouthpiece, keep these tips in mind:

  • It will take some time to get used to wearing a mouthpiece. At first it may feel uncomfortable or make your mouth water. If these problems last, tell your healthcare provider.

  • Expect several rounds of adjustments to get the mouthpiece to fit and work just right for you.

  • Mouthpieces don’t cure the problems that cause snoring or sleep apnea. So you need to use your mouthpiece all night, every night.

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for keeping the mouthpiece clean.

  • When you’re not wearing your mouthpiece, store it in its case.

Online Medical Reviewer: Allen J Blaivas DO
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2019
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