Mouth guards protect the integrity of your teeth from multiple threats, including sports injuries and the forces of chronic grinding or clenching. They are also a great way to treat a condition called obstructive sleep apnea. For maximum protection, obtaining a custom-fitted mouth guard from Dr. Mike Archuleta is ideal. Custom mouth guards are more comfortable and durable than stock guards and designed to fit the unique contours of your mouth.
If you’ve ever woken up with a sore or tender jaw, or noticed that the chewing surfaces of your teeth look worn, you may be grinding or clenching at night. Grinding and clenching subject your teeth to an incredible amount of force that can be very destructive. Chronic grinding or clenching can cause cracks and fractures in your teeth, ultimately requiring costly, invasive treatment like root canal therapy or the placement of crowns or bridges. Grinding and clenching can potentially damage your jaw joint as well.
A night guard protects your teeth from the forces of grinding or clenching; it also helps alleviate jaw strain and promote better jaw muscle positioning. For the best protection, Dr. Mike recommends a custom-fitted night guard based on impressions of your teeth. Although you can buy a stock night guard in a drugstore or off Amazon, these guards tend to be less comfortable than a custom-fitted night guard. Also, they typically wear down pretty fast, requiring frequent replacement.
Mouth guards are thin, flexible pieces of plastic worn over the upper teeth to protect oral structures during sporting activities. They are unquestionably important for anyone (especially children) that plays a contact or collision sport, including football, wrestling, basketball and lacrosse. The American Dental Association suggests that mouth guards can help prevent hundreds of thousands of oral injuries every year.
While you can purchase stock or “boil-and-bite” mouth guards at most sporting goods stores, Dr. Mike believes custom sports guards are a better investment. When a mouth guard fits well and feels good in the mouth, children are more likely to wear them. A well-fitting guard doesn’t irritate the soft tissues of the mouth or worse, impair normal breathing or speech. They also protect orthodontic appliances like braces. And, custom sports guards are very durable and should last a long time.
Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Dr. Mike is often consulted on cases of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a type of sleep-disordered breathing. Someone with OSA stops breathing as they sleep — sometimes hundreds of times a night. For a variety of reasons, the soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse, partially blocking the airway and preventing the normal flow of air. A common symptom of OSA is constant loud snoring, accompanied by audible gasps or choking noises as breathing stops and resumes.
Traditionally, doctors treated sleep apnea with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine; however, CPAP machines can be bulky and uncomfortable. If you have OSA and do not want to use a CPAP machine, Dr. Mike can create a customized oral appliance that looks like a mouth guard to help keep your airway clear of obstruction for easy breathing and less snoring. The oral appliance should be worn when sleeping; it helps reposition and hold your lower jaw in a forward position to keep the airway open.