Modern dentistry has evolved from the days of just a simple nightguard for grinders. A well trained dentist can treat a number of issues that were not even considered even 15 years ago. Bite appliances can be utilized in treatment of, the combination of clenching and bruxing, obstructive sleep apnea, TMJ pain, and sports mouthguards. These appliances allow patients to live more comfortable, healthier lives while enjoying the activites they love.
Teeth Clenching and Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
These are fairly common issues for many Americans. Studies have been unable to pinpoint the exact number of people in the population that grind or clench but it is believed, that most people at some point in their life will experience this habit. This is sometimes considered to be a stress related habit. Most patients with these habits, do so while sleeping, so they are unaware of the forces exerted on their teeth while they sleep. Teeth clenching and grinding can cause a number of dental issues that include:
-Tooth Chipping and Fracturing.
Bite Appliances are used to protect the teeth and also to re-train us to prevent continued grinding and clenching. These bite appliances are made from polymers and acrylics. They are generally custom made for each patient for added comfort and protection. These bite appliances work by not allowing the teeth to touch, making it restrictive to clench or grind. For those with an extreme form of these habits, it is not unusual to grind through the appliance over time necessitating a new appliance to be made.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
This is sometimes known as the “silent killer”. Obstructive sleep apnea can be potentially a very serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep time. Obstructive sleep apnea is believed to affect about 25% of the population. Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by:
-Excessive daytime sleepiness.
-Both habits of clenching and grinding at night.
-Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep.
-Awakening abruptly accompanied by shortness of breath.
-Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking in the morning.
There are generally two types of bite appliances available for obstructive sleep apnea. These include over the counter ones and custom fabricated ones. The idea behind either of these bite appliances is to maintain an open airway during sleep to stop the disturbances from occurring. These bite appliances work by repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, and soft palate. The custom fitted appliances tend to work far better than the generic ones.
TMJ Disorder appliances
These bite appliances help to reposition and decompress the jaw. TMJ disorder appliances are generally worn at night, and help to decrease the inflammation and pain associated with TMJ instability.
These have really come into fashion in the last decade, as more and more research has gone into sports medicine, better airway maintenance and prevention of concussions. The old days of the generic “boil and bite” mouthguard are slowly fading away. We are now in the age of custom fitted athletic mouthguards that are able to not only give better protection against injury but also increase athletic performance. The thinking is, that how an athlete clenches his/her teeth together changes the way the brain reacts. When using a proper athletic mouthguard, your brain will be better able to handle temperature regulation as well as stress.
Bite Appliances Conclusion
Bite appliance therapy has been around for quite some time but recent advances (in both technology and theory) have made the treatments even more effective than before. A small investment in a good bite appliance can make the world of difference in the health and well being of your teeth for the rest of your life.