When it comes to bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), sleep apnea, and snoring, the solution can be as easy as wearing a custom-designed night guard. A night guard is an oral appliance that fits your upper or lower teeth and is designed to wear while you sleep.
AnnMarie Olson, DDS, and Kacie Culotta, DMD of Restora Dental Arts in Austin, TX, recommend custom night guards to patients of all ages.
Here are the most common reasons Restora Dental Arts patients choose this treatment.
Tooth protection and preservation
The most common reason for wearing a night guard is to manage bruxism symptoms, which is the unconscious grinding or clenching of teeth while sleeping.
About 8% of the population in the United States is diagnosed with bruxism. Many more suffer, but are unaware they do. Often, it’s a patient’s dentist who flags the issue during a routine dental by noticing abnormal surface damage or excessive enamel wear.
Unmanaged grinding and clenching can cause tooth damage, including: loosened teeth, increased tooth sensitivity, pain, tooth fracture, headache, and muscle problems of the jaw and joints that can inhibit chewing and restrict the range of motion.
Wearing a night guard provides a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing forceful contact, pain, and injury.
Reduced jaw pain and tension
Night guards are also part of our comprehensive treatment plan for patients who suffer from TMJ dysfunction. Untreated bruxism can lead to chronic TMJ pain, which worsens without proper intervention. A night guard keeps the jaw relaxed during sleep to alleviate TMJ-related tension and pain, helping to reduce or prevent bruxism and the development of TMJ disorder.
Less snoring, more restful sleep
Custom night guards can also help patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition occurs when the airway's soft tissues partially collapse during sleep, causing repeated breathing pauses and disruptive snoring. About 30 million Americans have OSA, though only 6 million are diagnosed.
A night guard designed to keep the airway open helps eliminate chronic snoring and promotes restful sleep.
Routinely waking up with headaches is a common symptom of bruxism and OSA. Night guards that prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching can reduce chronic morning headaches.
Benefits overall health
Poor-quality sleep is linked to and increased risk of physical and mental health problems, including: high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, and impaired memory. A night guard can help mitigate these risks related to bruxism and OSA.
To learn more about the benefits of custom night guards or to schedule your next dental exam at Restora Dental Arts in Austin, TX, call or use our online feature to make an appointment at our office.