With a novel therapeutic approach, the Department of Dental Surgery of the Department of Human Medicine of the University of Göttingen has achieved success against snoring. With a so-called oral forecourt plate with pressure indicator patients can train to keep the lips closed and thus to create a negative pressure in the oral cavity by swallowing. This will "park" the tongue in a particular position and reduce snoring. So far, several hundred patients have been treated with the method in different treatment centers. "At about 80 percent, there was an improvement in snoring symptoms, " says Prof. Dr. med. Wilfried Engelke from the Department of Dental Surgery.
Exercise to keep the lips closed
During each swallowing process, the base of the tongue is brought into firm contact with the soft palate, thereby interrupting the snoring and expanding the throat, making voluntary snoring impossible. The contact between the soft palate and the base of the tongue acts like a kind of valve, so that, similar to wearing a full denture, the tongue adheres to the hard palate. This process repeats reflexively with every swallow, even unconsciously during the night.
The oral cavity is a hydraulic system when swallowed. Only when the lips are closed can a negative pressure develop that stabilizes the tongue and the soft palate. How long the valve mechanism works after swallowing, just a few seconds or many minutes, depends on whether the hydraulic mouth system is closed or open.
The new and simple therapy principle involves patients exercising through an oral forecourt plate with pressure gauge, keeping the lips closed and creating a negative pressure in the oral cavity by swallowing. In this way, the naturally existing swallowing reflex can be used for the desired stabilization of the tongue and the soft palate. With each swallow, the tongue and soft palate are stabilized again, with the exercise treatment not just for a few seconds, but for several minutes until the next swallow.
In many cases, the concept eliminates the need for surgical treatment such as shortening the soft palate or removing mucous membranes in the throat. Before the start of treatment it can be checked which effect is achieved by the change in position of the tongue when swallowing. During the therapy it can be determined with an X-ray or an endoscopic examination, whether with it a sufficient width of the airway can be reached. In the positive case, the patient receives a device for home exercises.
The exercise treatment lasts several weeks and is carried out at home. It consists of two hours wearing a soft plastic splint with pressure indication in the oral forecourt. The aim is to train a physiological tongue rest position, the "tongue park position" after swallowing and to stop any existing mouth breathing.
The rail is also worn at night after a familiarization phase. If the patient has trained the "tongue park position" after about six to eight weeks, nocturnal carrying is often no longer necessary. An individualized track can support a sometimes necessary, longer-term nocturnal therapy.