It can be surprising to learn about the many benefits of mouth guards whether you plan to wear one for teeth grinding (bruxism) or sleep apnea. Getting the device is a simple process once your dentist diagnoses you with teeth grinding or your doctor diagnoses you with sleep apnea. Continue reading to learn more about what is a mouth guard, types of mouth guards, mouthguard for teeth grinding, mouthguard for sleep apnea, and how a Los Angeles sleep apnea dentist can help you.
What Is a Mouth Guard?
A mouth guard, sometimes called a night guard, is a dental device that covers and protects your teeth, gums, tongue, and cheeks from trauma caused by teeth grinding during sleep (nighttime bruxism) or sports injuries. The oral device can also reduce snoring in people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OAS). The best mouth guard for grinding teeth or sleep apnea will depend on the diagnosis of your doctor or dentist. Other common names for mouthguards include dental guards, occlusal guards, nocturnal bite plates, and bite splints.
Types of Mouth Guards
The three main types of mouth guards are stock, boil-and-bite, and custom-fitted.
Stock Mouth Guard
A stock mouth guard is one-size-fits-all, easy to find, affordable, and ready to wear. They are mostly available at drug stores and sporting goods stores and come in different sizes. However, there are downsides. Stock mouth guards are not custom-made for your teeth and are usually designed to cover only your top teeth. They are also bulky and uncomfortable to wear while offering little protection. This can make it hard to talk or breathe while wearing one.
Boil-and-Bite Mouth Guard
Boil-and-bite mouth guards are made of a thermoplastic material. They generally come in one size that you can customize to fit your teeth. You’ll need to soften the device by placing it in hot water. Once it cools off a bit, you’ll place it over your front teeth and bite down. As per the instructions, you may need to remove the device after running cool water over it to set it. Just be sure to follow the instructions provided in the product package.
Custom-Fitted Mouth Guard
Our dentist at Victory Plaza Dental Group in North Hollywood can help you get a custom-made mouth guard that fits your teeth better. The process involves making a mold of your teeth and using it to create a mouth guard specifically for the structure of your teeth and mouth. You can expect a far better fit and comfort compared to wearing a stock or boil-and-bite mouth guard.
A mouth guard for sleeping customized by your dentist is more likely to stay in place while you’re catching your zzz. This is a top reason why custom-fit night guards are recommended as a sleep apnea treatment option and for people who snore heavily or have nighttime bruxism.
Note that custom-fitted dental guards are more expensive to get than over-the-counter types but may be the best mouthguard for grinding teeth. That’s because they are usually of a higher quality and provide a far better fit and protection based on your needs. Your dental insurance provider may cover all or a part of the cost of the device, in case affordability is a concern for you.
Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding
Bruxism is a sleep-related disorder that affects children and adults. The actual cause is unknown although doctors believe it is related to stress. Between 8% and 31.4% of adults grind their teeth during sleep, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health. Many are unaware of the involuntary habit unless someone tells them.
However, grinding or clenching your teeth during the day (daytime bruxism) or while you sleep (nighttime bruxism) can result in tooth damage, tooth pain, sore gums, headaches, or jaw pain. You can also develop a painful condition called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) from too much pressure on the muscles, nerves, and ligaments around your jaws.
While there is no cure for bruxism, a mouthguard for teeth grinding and clenching can help reduce the symptoms. The mouth guard is specially designed to keep your top and bottom teeth from touching while you sleep. This takes the pressure off your teeth, gum, and jaws and protects them from damage.
You may get some relief from a stock or boil-and-bite mouth guard. But keep in mind they are not as comfortable or durable as one created specially for you. If you’ve tried either one of them and you’re not getting relief, you can ask your dentist about getting fitted for a custom mouth guard for your top or bottom row of teeth.
How Will I Know I Need a Night Guard for Teeth Grinding?
It may be time to talk with your dentist about a customized mouth guard if you notice the following symptoms of nighttime bruxism:
- You grind your teeth during the day
- Your teeth, enamel, or fillings are worn or damaged
- You wake up with headaches in the mornings
- Tooth pain or sensitivity
- You are diagnosed with TMJD
- You experience jaw, neck, or face pain (inflammation of the jaw muscles due to clenching)
Mouthguard for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. Excessive snoring may is often associated with the disorder. Snoring is a vibrating sound made when the soft tissue at the back of the mouth relaxes too much and blocks your airways.
The gaps in breathing due to sleep apnea can reduce the amount of oxygen flowing to your brain. As a result, you may feel fatigued or sleepy the next day. Sleep apnea also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Doctors sometimes recommend a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to help keep the patient’s airway open during sleep. The machine delivers oxygen into your airways through the mask which you’ll need to wear for sleeping.
However, your sleep apnea treatment Los Angeles dentist may recommend a custom-made mouthguard for sleep apnea if you’re diagnosed with a mild case of the disorder. The oral appliance works to keep your airways open by pushing your lower jaw and tongue forward and down.
By now, you may realize that the basic boil-and-bite or stock mouth guard would not be an appropriate mouth guard for sleeping as they cannot provide the type of protection and safety you need.
How Will I Know I Need a Sleep Apnea Mouthpiece?
Your Los Angeles sleep dentist can assess your symptoms to decide if a mouth guard or mouthpiece for sleep apnea is right for you? Your dentist may refer you to a sleep specialist if you’re experiencing the following symptoms for a long period:
- Heavy snoring
- Morning headaches
- Broken sleep or insomnia caused by breathing cessation and waking (sleep apnea)
- Sore throat when you wake in the morning
- Feeling unrefreshed when you wake in the morning
- Excessive daytime sleepiness or drowsiness
- Trouble concentrating
- Brain fog or memory loss
- Unwanted napping during the day
Benefits of Mouth Guards
The way you benefit from wearing a mouth guard will depend on the purpose of use. Here is a breakdown of the benefits of mouthguards if you’re wearing them for teeth grinding, snoring, or as a sleep apnea treatment option.
As a night guard for teeth grinding
- Protect your teeth and gum against injury resulting from teeth grinding and clenching
- Prevent or reduce the symptoms of TMJD due to pressure on the temporomandibular joints
- Reduce headaches from pressure and tension on the jaws, ears, and head
- Improve sleep by helping your jaw muscles to relax
As a snoring or sleep apnea mouthpiece
- Less cumbersome alternative to a CPAP machine
- Good for snorers without OSA or who experience insomnia due to snoring
- Can be customized to suit your needs
- Easy to use without the battery, filters, and mask required to use a CPAP
- Comfortable since they are made for your mouth
- Help eliminate the airway obstruction that causes snoring and apnea
- Work silently unlike the CPAP that blows air continuously all night and may disturb your sleep
- Lightweight and easy to carry when you’re traveling
Is a Mouth Guard Right for Me?
Despite the range of benefits provided even by the best mouthguard for teeth grinding, mouthguards are not suitable for everyone. Your doctor or Los Angeles sleep apnea dentist can help determine if you should wear a mouthguard for sleeping or teeth grinding. Individuals who may not be eligible to wear a mouth guard include patients with severe bruxism, severe TMJD, or advanced periodontal disease.
Contact Victory Plaza Dental Group in North Hollywood
A custom-fit mouth guard for teeth grinding or sleep apnea offers a number of benefits. If you’re thinking of getting one, our dentist at Victory Plaza Dental Group in North Hollywood is ready to help you. We can recommend the best mouthguard for grinding teeth or a mouthguard for sleeping once we perform a detailed oral exam. We have an experienced team who will tailor a treatment plan for a well-fitted and comfortable night guard. Please feel free to call our office to schedule a consultation with our board-certified dentist.