Custom oral appliances alleviate symptoms caused by a number of conditions, including bruxism, sleep apnea, TMD, and more. Your dentist can fabricate a mouth guard that fits snugly over your teeth, providing maximum protection and comfort. In this article, we’ll explore the value of a custom mouth guard and explore topics such as:
- Bruxism, or chronic teeth clenching
- Store-bought vs custom made night guards
- TMJ disorder
- Sleep apnea
- Mouth guard fabrication process
- Mouth guards for athletes
Mouthguards for Bruxism
Bruxism is the clinical term for teeth clenching and grinding. This habitual behavior may be acute or chronic, but it can cause significant dental damage. When the teeth withstand constant pressure, it can lead to dental erosion. Left untreated, nighttime teeth grinding can cause your teeth to wear down over time, compromising the overall health of your smile.
A custom mouth guard is a great way to protect your teeth if you grind your teeth at night. When in place, this oral appliance cushions the teeth by keeping them slightly apart. A mouth guard most often fits over the upper arch, but there are guards that are made for the lower teeth as well.
Addressing TMJ Disorder
Another condition that is often related to bruxism is TMJ disorder. This condition is characterized by jaw pain, headaches, earaches, and more. When the jaws are out of alignment, the surrounding muscles must work overtime to compensate. This leads to tremendous wear and tear, leading to chronic discomfort.
A night guard can slip over the teeth and place the lower jaw in a more favorable position. As a result, the jaws are aligned, and excess pressure is alleviated.
Night Guards for Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition in which the airway is blocked during sleep, cutting off the oxygen supply to the brain. Many individuals do not even realize they suffer from sleep apnea, but may experience related symptoms, such as chronic headaches, irritability, fatigue, and restlessness. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a host of other health issues, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and memory issues. According to this study, patients with sleep apnea have a much higher mortality risk.
A custom mouth guard is often the first step in treating sleep apnea. Many individuals find that oral appliance therapy is enough to reduce or eliminate their symptoms. However, in some cases, oral appliance therapy is used in conjunction with CPAP.
Store-Bought vs Custom-Made Mouth Guards
There are different types of mouthguards available over the counter for just about any ailment you can imagine. Boil-and-bite night guards are common and can be found in your local sporting good store or grocery oral healthcare aisle. These versions tend to be quite bulky and can be uncomfortable for your lips and tongue.
If you suffer from bruxism, TMJ disorder, or sleep apnea, something is certainly better than nothing. However, store bought mouth guards simply cannot compare to custom made appliances at your dentist office. Custom guards are crafted with your unique dental anatomy in mind. As a result, they fit much better and provide optimal comfort. Many patients report that they remove their store-bought guards at some point during the night due to lack of comfort. A custom guard gives you the best chance for protecting your oral health. While a custom fitted mouthguard is best and offers a better fit, a generic hot water formed guard works for the vast majority of athletes. They adequately protect both the upper and lower teeth from injuries. Talk to your dentist if you are playing sports and you are unsure.
Oral Appliance Fabrication Process
An oral appliance usually takes about two office visits to complete. Here are the steps you can expect when you visit the dentist for a custom mouth guard fitting:
During your first visit, your dentist will assess your teeth, gums, jaws, and oral soft tissues. He or she will determine if a mouth guard can address your specific concerns. Your dentist will also check the teeth for damage from bruxism and recommend any necessary restorative work.
If a custom fitted night guard is deemed beneficial, the next step is to take impressions of your teeth. This is completed with a putty material, or with a digital handheld wand. Impressions make it possible for your dentist to create a model of your mouth.
Your dental model is shipped to a trusted dental laboratory. There, a skilled technician fabricates your new oral appliance based on your oral anatomy and your dentist’s specifications. Once the device is made, the lab ships it back to your dental office.
Fitting and Final Assessment
Your dentist will have you try in your new mouth guard. He or she checks the fit and ensures that the appliance achieves the desired result. For best results, wear custom night guards every time you sleep. If your device becomes worn or damaged, alert your dentist right away.
Mouth Guards for Athletes
In addition to oral appliances for dental conditions, you dentist can also make a mouth guard for athletes. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, up to 39 percent of all dental traumas are sports-related. Further research suggests that wearing a mouth guard is crucial in reducing the risk for such injuries.
Sports mouth guards not only protect the natural teeth from breakage and damage, but it also protects existing restorations. Wearing an oral appliance is a simple step that can ultimately save you a lot of time, worry, and money in the future.
Learn More about Custom Oral Appliances
If you grind your teeth and would like to learn more about properly fitted mouth guards, reach out to a knowledgeable team member at Lake Forest Dental Arts. Contact us online anytime or give us a call at (847) 234-0517.