A rapidly increasing number of people are wearing overnight intraoral appliances to prevent tooth grinding or sleep apnea. These devices must be prescribed and designed to each individual’s specific needs. Not all sleep appliances are alike.
Tooth Grinding (Bruxism nightguards)
The majority of intraoral bruxism appliances (nightguards) are worn to mask an underlying cause and actually would not be necessary at all if the cause were to be eliminated. Usually a non diagnosed malocclusion is the actual source of tooth grinding, muscle pain and headaches. Sometimes a simple bite adjustment can instantly relieve the patient’s discomfort. Other times the patient may require orthodontics to change their tooth position.
True bruxism generally has a psychological cause. Some people have an ideal occlusion and grind their teeth because they are just “stressed out “. These are the patient’s who truly require relief. There are many designs and types of bruxism appliances (nightguards) available. It is important for the dentist to accurately evaluate each patient’s requirements and provide the appropriate appliance.
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
Patient’s sometimes consult us saying “ I have TMJ “. TMJ is a problem in the joint connecting the jaw to the skull. Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ) is actually extremely rare requiring a very involved accurate diagnosis (Tomogram, CT scans, Doppler) and specialized treatment sometimes involving complicated surgery. Diagnosed TMJ problems should only be treated by a recognized authority. The majority of complaints we hear using the word “TMJ” are actually not TMJ at all! Usually the facial muscles (lateral pterygoid, etc.) are the source of the discomfort and not pathology (disease) of the joint. Usually the discomfort is not difficult or complicated to eliminate or control.
Sleep Apnea / Snoring
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person will stop breathing during sleep anywhere from a few seconds to a minute. These interruptions or pauses in sleep are called apneas and can happen hundreds of times each night. This prevents the sufferer from falling into a deep restful sleep. Snoring is a telltale sign of sleep apnea and occurs in 30-50% of the population.
There are serious health risks associated with sleep apnea including high blood pressure, frequent headaches, acid reflux (heartburn), diabetes, inability to concentrate, impaired memory, erectile dysfunction and even sudden death!
Sleep apnea is an easily treatable disorder. For patients with severe sleep apnea the standard of care is a CPAP device which is 100% effective. However it only works if it is worn or tolerated. The compliance rate is less than 50%!
For those patients that cannot tolerate a CPAP, an effective alternative is oral sleep appliance therapy. The oral sleep appliance is a device prescribed by a sleep apnea physician and fabricated by our dental team. It is designed to open the patient’s airway so that they can breath better when asleep. Let us help you get a restful nights sleep for yourself and your bed partner. Enjoy your mornings again.