Snoring can disrupt sleep and affect both the snorer and those around them.
Over the years, various devices have been developed to counteract this nocturnal nuisance. Two of the most commonly used devices are the snoring mouthpiece and the chin strap.
In this article, we'll dive deep into the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you make an informed choice.
Snoring Mouthpiece (Mandibular Advancement Device)
A snoring mouthpiece, often referred to as a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD), is designed to push the lower jaw and tongue forward. By doing so, it increases the space in the airway, reducing air resistance and the likelihood of tissue vibration — the primary cause of snoring. We refer to both tongue stabilizing devices and MADs as "snoring mouthpieces" here but know they are different ways to help open the airway while sleeping.
- Effectiveness: For many, MADs prove effective in reducing or eliminating snoring, especially when it’s due to a relaxed tongue falling backward into the throat.
- Compactness: Mouthpieces are small and easily portable, making them suitable for travel.
- Adjustability: Some high-quality MADs offer adjustable advancement levels, allowing for a custom fit.
- Dual-Functionality: Certain designs can also help with teeth grinding, offering protection against bruxism.
- Discomfort: Initial discomfort is common as one adjusts to the device. Over time, most get used to it, but for some, the discomfort persists.
- Oral Hygiene Concerns: Increased salivation or dry mouth can occur. Regular cleaning is required to prevent bacterial buildup.
- Durability Issues: Depending on the material and usage, MADs may need replacement every 6-24 months.
- Potential Bite Changes: Prolonged use might lead to changes in dental alignment or bite, although this is rare.
A chin strap is a fabric strap worn around the head, designed to hold the jaw closed during sleep.
By keeping the mouth closed, it encourages breathing through the nose, which can reduce snoring in some cases.
- Simplicity: Chin straps are easy to use, requiring no special fitting or adjustment.
- Maintenance: They are relatively easy to clean and maintain compared to MADs.
- Cost-Effective: Generally, chin straps are more affordable than most snoring mouthpieces.
- No In-mouth Discomfort: For those uncomfortable with inserting a device into their mouth, chin straps can be a preferable option.
- Effectiveness: Their efficacy is debated. While they can be beneficial for mouth-breathers, chin straps might not be as effective for those with nasal obstructions or other causes of snoring.
- Discomfort: Some find chin straps constrictive or uncomfortable to wear, especially if not fitted properly.
- Skin Irritation: Prolonged use can cause skin irritation or pressure marks for some individuals.
- Unsuitable for Nose Blockages: For those with nasal congestion or obstructions, chin straps might exacerbate the problem by forcing them to breathe through their mouth.
Is a Chin Strap or Mouthpiece Better for Snoring?
Both chin straps and mouthpieces are popular solutions for snoring, but their effectiveness largely depends on the individual's specific causes of snoring and personal preferences. Let's compare the two based on several factors:
Mechanism of Action:
- Chin Strap: This device wraps around the head and chin to keep the mouth closed during sleep. By doing so, it encourages nasal breathing and can prevent the tongue from falling back into the throat, which might obstruct the airway.
- Mouthpiece (Mandibular Advancement Device or Tongue Stabilizing Device): This device either pushes the lower jaw forward (MAD) or holds the tongue in place (TSD) to keep the airway open. See the differences between them here.
- Chin Strap: Effective for individuals who snore primarily because they breathe through their mouth while sleeping. If snoring is due to other causes, like nasal obstructions or relaxed throat tissues, a chin strap might not be as effective.
- Mouthpiece: Often effective for a broader range of snorers since it addresses the relaxation of throat tissues and the positioning of the tongue, common causes of snoring.
- Chin Strap: Some people find chin straps uncomfortable or restrictive, while others adjust easily. It can also cause facial marks or discomfort if too tight.
- Mouthpiece: It can take time to get used to. Initial discomfort, excessive salivation, or dry mouth can be issues. Custom-fitted mouthpieces (available through a dentist) tend to be more comfortable than generic ones.
Hygiene and Maintenance:
- Chin Strap: Requires regular washing. Over time, it may lose elasticity and need replacement.
- Mouthpiece: Requires daily cleaning to prevent bacterial growth. Depending on the type and material, you might need to replace it every 6-24 months.
- Chin Strap: Not recommended for individuals with respiratory disorders or those who have nasal blockages, as it encourages nasal breathing.
- Mouthpiece: Should be used with caution in individuals with dental issues, TMJ disorders, or gum disease.
- Chin Strap: Generally less expensive than custom-fitted mouthpieces but more expensive than some generic mouthpieces.
- Mouthpiece: Prices vary widely. Over-the-counter versions are more affordable, while custom-fitted ones can be quite expensive.
Ease of Procurement:
- Chin Strap: Available over-the-counter.
- Mouthpiece: Both over-the-counter and custom-fitted options are available.
Both snoring mouthpieces and chin straps have their place in the battle against snoring.
The choice between them should be based on individual preferences, specific snoring causes, and comfort levels.
It's always a good idea to consult with a sleep specialist or dentist when considering a snoring solution. They can provide insights tailored to individual needs and ensure the chosen device is used effectively and safely.