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Sleep Appliances & Mouthguards

Sleep Appliances & Mouthguards

Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common yet serious disorder that happens when someone has one or more pauses in breathing (airflow) while they sleep. These pauses may last from a few seconds to minutes and can happen many times per hour. After these pauses, normal breathing starts after many times with a loud snort or choking sound. This means that you (your brain and entire body) may not be getting enough oxygen.

Most people don’t even realize they have sleep apnea and go undiagnosed for years. In many cases, a bed partner or spouse may be the first one to notice the signs and symptoms because it occurs when you are sleeping.

Are you at risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea potentially affects any age person, including children. Some common risk factors include:

  • Being male
  • Being overweight
  • > age of 40
  • Large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
  • Having large tongue, large tonsils, or a small jaw bone
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Nasal obstructions caused by a deviated septum, sinus problems, or allergies
  • Family history of sleep apnea

What causes Sleep Apnea?

  • The muscles in your throat keep your airway stiff and open to for air to flow into your lungs while you are awake.  These same muscles relax while you sleep which, in turn, narrows your throat.

While you sleep:
– Your throat muscles and tongue are relaxed more than normal
– Your tongue and/or tonsils are large compared to the opening into your windpipe
– You are overweight. The extra soft fat tissue can narrow the windpipe making it harder to keep open

  • The shape of your head and neck area (bony structures) may contribute to a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat region
  • The process of aging may weaken your body’s ability to keep your airway held open making it more likely to narrow or close

What are treatment options for Sleep Apnea?

  • Sleep apnea is treated with lifestyle changes, dental appliances, breathing devices (CPAP), and even surgery.
  • Dental appliances move your lower jaw and tongue forward while you sleep to help you open your airway at night.  We offer several different custom-fit devices to help treat Sleep Apnea at our office.

What is Bruxism?
Bruxism affects about 8-10% of the population. It is generally characterized by clenching of the teeth and clenching of the jaw which causes tooth wear and breakage, many disorders of the jaw (limited movement and pain) and headaches.

What can cause Bruxism/Clenching?
The cause of bruxism or clenching has not been medically determined. Daily stress may be the trigger in many people. Many people report worsening symptoms under stressful times. Some may clench or grind their teeth and never feel any symptoms. A mix of factors can contribute to whether or not a person feels pain because of the bruxism. Some common factors contributing to bruxism are:

  • The amount of stress you are under
  • Your ability to relax
  • How long and tightly you clench or grind your teeth
  • Are your teeth misaligned?
  • Your posture
  • Your diet
  • Your sleeping habits

What is the treatment for Bruxism?
For some people, learning to relax and their changing daytime behavior will reduce nighttime bruxism. If you have tried changing your behavior and it does not work for you, the next step in treatment for you would be an oral appliance or Botox injections, both of which we offer in our office. Botox (Botulinum Toxin) is injected into the masseter muscle to help relax the muscle. We also offer custom mouthpieces or guards designed to discomfort and/or pain associated with bruxism.

Tooth Colored Fillings can be used for a variety reasons, including:

  • Restoring decayed or fractured teeth
  • Making cosmetic improvements
  • Changing the color of teeth
  • Reshaping teeth (ie – making a malformed tooth look like a normally shaped tooth)

Sports Guards
Sports guards are designed to protect the teeth and jaw from damage that may occur while participating in contact sports activities. There are many types of sports guards, each are customized to fit the patient’s individual needs.

Advantages of Customized Sports Guards and Bite Guards
Even though night guards are available over the counter at drug stores and retailers near you, there are advantages of getting a custom made night guard made by your dentist. After the dentist takes an accurate impression of your mouth, they will send the impression to the laboratory to make a custom fitting guard. These professional guards will provide the most accurate fit, protect the teeth, and are adjusted to your individual bite.

Individuals who purchase an over-the-counter bite guard that is improperly fitted may not find any relief, their symptoms may worsen, and they may find they develop other complications with prolonged use. These guards are made from inferior materials and will have to be replaced more often than a professional custom fitted guard.

If you are interested in a night or bite guard, your dentist will evaluate your mouth and your symptoms and make a recommendation for the type of guard you may need. The dentist can target specific areas that may need more support for a better bite and make adjustments so your muscles and tissue in and around your mouth will not leave your jaw feeling sore or inflamed.

Night Guard and Sports Guard Care
Proper care is essential for the night guard to be most effective for you. The guard must be thoroughly cleaned with cool soapy water after each use. You will need to regularly inspect the guard for rips, tears, or wear. Always bring your guard to your regular appointments so the dentist can take a look at it to see if it is providing the proper protection for you.

Night Guards
Protect your investment in your mouth. Do you grind your teeth at night? Do you wake up in the morning with a headache or sore jaw? It’s more common than you may think.

You may be suffering from bruxism, or teeth grinding. Individuals who suffer from bruxism may find that a custom-made night guard may help them achieve a better quality of sleep, as well as prevent sore muscles in the jaws. It will help protect from the wear caused by grinding at night, which could cause the thinning of the enamel and be susceptible to decay or fracture over time. The grinding and clenching force is 50% greater during your sleep than when you are awake.

We recommend night guards after extensive cosmetic or restorative dentistry for those who suffer from bruxism or clenching to protect your investment in your oral health.

For TMJ patients, dentists utilize night guards as a means for helping the condition and alleviating some pain and symptoms. Regular use of a night guard has shown that TMJ sufferers can experience fewer TMJ-related headaches, and less jaw popping, clenching, clicking of the jaw, fewer toothaches and less ringing in the ears.

For all night guard wearers including TMJ, bruxism, or clenching an added benefit is that the material used to fabricate these night guards is naturally absorptive to force, reducing the amount of force throughout the head and neck region should the wearer suffer an injury.

Advantages of Customized Night Guards and Bite Guards
Even though night guards are available over the counter at drug stores and retailers near you, there are advantages of getting a custom made night guard made by your dentist. After the dentist takes an accurate impression of your mouth, they will send the impression to the laboratory to make a custom fitting guard. These professional guards will provide the most accurate fit, protect the teeth, and are adjusted to your individual bite.

Individuals who purchase an over-the-counter bite guard that is improperly fitted may not find any relief, their symptoms may worsen, and they may find they develop other complications with prolonged use. These guards are made from inferior materials and will have to be replaced more often than a professional custom fitted guard.

If you are interested in a night or bite guard, your dentist will evaluate your mouth and your symptoms and make a recommendation for the type of guard you may need. The dentist can target specific areas that may need more support for a better bite and make adjustments so your muscles and tissue in and around your mouth will not leave your jaw feeling sore or inflamed.

Night Guard and Sports Guard Care
Proper care is essential for the night guard to be most effective for you. The guard must be thoroughly cleaned with cool soapy water after each use. You will need to regularly inspect the guard for rips, tears, or wear. Always bring your guard to your regular appointments so the dentist can take a look at it to see if it is providing the proper protection for you.