Tongue Stabilizing Devices

Last updated: May 27th, 2018

What Is A Tongue Stabilizing Device?

A tongue stabilizing device (TSD) is a type of snoring mouthpiece, often made of flexible plastic or silicone resin, that is used to treat snoring and sleep apnea by holding your tongue forward.

A TSD can work for almost anyone because it does not rest on the teeth and does not require custom fitting.

What Other Names Does A Tongue Stabilizing Device Have?

Tongue stabilizing devices are also called tongue-retaining devices (TRDs). They are a type of snoring mouthpiece.

Types of Tongue Stabilizing Devices

  • TSDs that work through a suction bulb, pulling the tongue forward
  • TSDs that work by putting an elastic band over the tongue to keep it from falling back over the airway

Sizes of Tongue Stabilizing Devices

Because no impression of the teeth is made, TSDs come in pre-made sizes. These are usually small, medium and large sizes.

How Does A Tongue Stabilizing Device Work?

A TSD works by opening up the blocked airway through gently pulling the tongue forward. Generally, a TSD attaches to the tongue through suction and then braces itself using the lips, gums or teeth. Each TSD is different but all work through keeping the tongue forward. TSDs extend your tongue past your teeth and address the tongue as the cause of snoring.

Beforing using a TSD, you should rinse your mouth with water to moisten it. You do not have to push your tongue completely into the tip of the device. You should be able to swallow comfortably with a TSD.

Some TSDs work using an elastic band while others work by being pinched and placed inside a hole that creates a vacuum. This vacuum is what pulls the tongue forward.

A TSD does not require fitting by a specialist.

What Problems Does a Tongue Stabilizing Device Address?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a major public health problem with long-term health consequences such as hypertension, metabolic dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. Sleep dentists and physicians often have patients being treated for mild OSA that can not use Mandibular Advancement Devices because of periodontal disease, CPAP failure or TMJ disorders.

How Long Does It Take To Get Used To A Tongue Stabilizing Device?

A TSD may be uncomfortable at first. For this reason, it can take days to get used to. It may even take several weeks or even months to be worn comfortably.

What Are Some Problems With Tongue Devices?

One problem that you may experience while wearing a TSD is that you cannot sleep as easily on your side.

A TSD is worn mostly outside of your mouth and this may interfer with your sleeping position.

Tongue Stabilizing Device vs. Mandibular Advancement Device

For a detailed review comparing TSDs to MADs, see this article comparing them.

Who Should Use a Tongue Stabilizing Device?

A TSD is a choice for people that want to treat snoring and sleep apnea that are able to stick their tongue out past their teeth to secure the device in place.

Those who are good candidates for TSDs include people:

  • Without teeth
  • With dentures (upper and/ or lower)
  • Who have tooth complications
  • Who have periodontal problems
  • Who have a larger than normal tongue
  • Who have Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/ TMD)
  • Who recent had dental implants

Who Should Not Use A Tongue Stabilizing Device?

  • Children (unless fit correctly)
  • People with central sleep apnea
  • People who have large tonsils
  • Those who have a tongue so large that it cannot be moved out of the way
  • People who cannot breathe through their nose at night

What Problems Can Occur With A Tongue Stabilizing Device?

  • It may fall out of the mouth during sleep
  • It may take a few nights getting use to the feeling
  • Discomfort around the tip of the tongue
  • Salivation/ drool
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing from altering the position of the tongue
  • Discoloration of the tongue
  • Breathing problems (you should discontinue use if you have breathing problems)

How Do You Take Care of a Tongue Stabilization Device?

  • Clean it everyday with hot water to prevent infection and odor
    • Use denture cleaning solution on a weekly or monthly basis
    • Do not use mouthwash (the alcohol can damage the device)
  • Store in a cool and dry place such as the container it comes in

What Is The History Of Tongue Stabilization Devices?

The TSD was developed by Christopher J. Robertson in the United States at Great Lakes Orthodontics, Ltd in Tonawanda, New York.

Can a Tongue Stabilization Device Be Used With Dentures?

Yes, you can use a TSD if you have dentures because it does not attach to your teeth.

How Much Does a Tongue Stabilization Device Cost?

It can cost anywhere from $40 to $500 get a TSD, most of which are under $100.

How Long Does a Tongue Stabilization Device Last?

If used continuously, a TSD should last 6 months to 2 years.

What If Snoring Continues After Trying A Tongue Stabilization Device?

If you continue to experience snoring problems after trying a TSD, make sure it is fit correctly and not damaged or worn out. You can consider using a Mandibular Advancement Device if you have health teeth.