Why and When to Use a Tongue Retaining Device (TRD) for Snoring

Using a good tongue retaining device (TRD) can be a cheap and simple way to control your snoring. Also known as a tongue stabilizing device (TSD), a tongue retainer is an anti-snoring device made from plastic or silicone resin.

The device is hollow and looks a little like a comforter. It sits on the lips and has a suction bulb at the front. The base section fits between the teeth.

Before you go to sleep, you place your tongue inside the device and apply suction to hold it in place. This can help prevent snoring by opening up the airway at the back of the throat.

Some people find a tongue retaining device works well on its own. Others use the device in conjunction with internal nasal dilators but a tongue retaining device is not always the best option to choose. 

This article provides a brief introduction to the tongue retaining device along with some of the pros and cons. The information it contains should help you decide if this type of device will be right for you and prevent you from buying blind.

How a Tongue Retaining Device Controls Snoring

As you may be aware, normal snoring happens as a response to obstructions in airflow at the back of the throat.

During sleep, the body enters a state of relaxation. This extends to the muscles and soft tissue in the throat. The tongue relaxes as well. When the tongue relaxes, it tends to drop backward. This situation can be particularly bad if you sleep on your back.

When the muscles at the back of the throat relax, they sag a little, obstructing the airway. Then, when the tongue drops backward, it obstructs normal airflow further still. This combination of events causes turbulence.

How Tongue Retaining Device works

In their relaxed state, the muscles and surrounding flesh vibrate in response to the turbulence. This vibration of the flesh is responsible for the noise we call snoring.

A tongue retaining device prevents the scenario that causes snoring by holding the tongue forward and encouraging it to retain its advanced position throughout sleep.

Using the device is incredibly simple. You begin by opening your mouth slightly and resting the device on your lips. 

The next thing you do is depress the suction bulb at the front, using finger pressure. Then you place your tongue inside the orifice sitting between your teeth, and stretch it forward as if you were sticking your tongue out at someone. When you remove your fingers from the suction bulb, the resulting vacuum holds the tongue in place.

When to Choose a Tongue Retaining Device (Or Avoid It)

A tongue retaining device is a viable option for most people who snore. However, if you suffer from nasal congestion or have other issues that make it hard to breathe through your nose, using a tongue retaining device is a bad idea.

When the device is in place, it will make it difficult to breathe through your mouth. So, if you cannot breathe through your nose, for obvious reasons, you and a tongue retaining device will not be a good match.

However, depending on the nature of the issue interfering with nasal breathing, there may be a workaround. Some people who have difficulty breathing through their noses use internal nasal dilators to open up their nostrils and use a tongue retaining device as well.

A tongue retaining device can also be a good alternative to a mandibular advancement device. 

A mandibular advancement device holds the tongue forward by advancing the lower jaw. So, instead of pulling on the tongue from the tip, it drags it forward from underneath. 

Because the tongue is attached to the lower jaw, when the jaw moves forward, the tongue comes too.

Some people who want to use a mandibular advancement device cannot do so because such devices require strong teeth. If the teeth are not strong enough, a tongue retainer is the best option to try instead.

However, if you have a short tongue or have difficulties sticking out your tongue, a tongue retaining device won’t be the right snoring solution for you.

Things to Know Before Using This Type of Anti-Snoring Device

Although using a tongue retaining device is a safe way to control snoring, there are a couple of additional things you need to know.

1. They Can Make Your Tongue Sore

Yes! Tongue retainers can make your tongue sore but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Sticking your tongue out for several hours at a time is not a normal situation. It can take your body time to adjust. It will adjust though. Don’t worry about that. 

2. They Can Make You Dribble

Due to the way they reposition the tongue and force you to sleep with your lips apart, tongue retaining devices can cause you to droll on your pillow. That’s not ideal, but a little dribbling is better than a lot of snoring so it’s a small price to pay.


Using a tongue retaining device is a good way to control your snoring. Although devices of this type are not suitable for everyone, the majority of people can use them and generally achieve good results.

A good tongue retaining device can be an excellent option for people who cannot use a mandibular advancement device because of issues with their teeth. Both types of devices improve airflow at the back of the throat by moving the tongue but achieve this in different ways. One pulls on the tip of the tongue, the other moves it by advancing the lower jaw.

Unfortunately, tongue retaining devices are a less viable option for anyone who cannot breathe through their nose. The presence of the device between the lips will make mouth breathing too difficult. This type of device may also be unsuitable for anyone who has a short tongue.

However, presuming there are no prohibitory factors, using a tongue retaining device can be a good way to get snoring under control. Although there may be a little soreness in the early days, this type of problem will soon disappear.