If you have played sports, then mouth guards are not a new concept to you. When many think about the concept of mouth guards as just a way of protecting themselves from extreme damages linked to sports injuries. While this is true, mouth guards are not just important for sporting activities. It really depends on the type of mouthguard you are using, and what need you seek to achieve. For example, are you aware that there are mouth guards for sleeping? Read on to find out more on that matter:
What Is Sleep Apnea?
It is a sleep disorder that is linked to shortness of breath while sleeping. Patients run out of breath at night, which results in snoring. However, snoring is only the outward and common symptom of sleep apnea. Others can be extremely severe, posing health risks to patients, including heart problems and blood pressure irregularities. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is by far the most common type of sleep apnea, affecting over 10 million Americans. It can be caused by different things, including obesity, and other health issues.
Due to how serious having a sleeping disorder can be, several treatments can be used to alleviate the effects of sleep apnea. This is where mouth guards for sleep apnea come in place. Mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea can be treated with mouth guards. These dental appliances have to be customized to serve this specific role. To learn more about sleep apnea and oral health check out our other blog here. Or to learn more about sleep apnea and our Mandibular Advancement Device, check out our blog here.
What Are the Different Types of Mouth Guards?
Depending on what you are looking for, there are several different types of mouth guards. Each type of mouth guard differs in how they are made, how they fit over your teeth, and the function they are made to serve.
- Stock mouth protectors: these are a pre-made mouth wear that is created for protecting teeth from external impact. They can easily be found in any sports store. They feature a plastic-like material. The downside is that they are usually ill-fitting. For patients, it can lead to difficulties talking and sometimes breathing. Sleep doctors and dentists do not recommend this type, especially for patients who suffer from sleep apnea.
- Boil and bite mouth protectors – these are also pre-made. However, unlike stock mouth protectors, they have a better fit because of the thermoplastic material used to make them. To adjust their fit, you have to put them in hot water, then placed over your teeth. From there, you can use your tongue or finger to align it perfectly on your teeth. Even though these allow for a more customizable fit these are still not the best types of mouth guards available in the market.
- Custom-fitted mouthguard – Now these are a customized oral appliance that a dentist makes for patients with sleep apnea, among other dental-related problems. This type of mouthguard is used to treat and relieve obstructive sleep apnea because of its ability to reduce snoring and ease breathing. The mouth guards are, however, not limited to this function alone. Customized mouth guards can also be used to control teeth clenching, or even protect patients’ teeth from external injury. However, this is only possible if the design of the mouthguard is changed. It is why you have to visit a dentist who specializes in sleep disorders among other dental problems. This way, you will get the best specifications for your teeth as well as meet the needs you have. For those customized mouth guards used to treat sleep apnea, there are different types, that is,
- Mandibular repositioning devices – this type is made in such a way to reposition the lower jaw. The lower jaw rests forward and then down during the night. This creates a passage of air in and out of your system through your mouth. This one, in sleep apnea treatment, is the most common type of mouth guards used.
- Tongue retaining devices – focuses on controlling the movement of your tongue as you sleep. For some patients that snore, the obstruction of the airways results from the tongue closing up the passage of air in and out of your system. These oral appliances work by retaining the position of the tongue.
Finding the best type of mouthguard is not just about convenience or the costs, but about the intended function. You must consider other factors like adjustability, functionality, comfort level, as well as effectiveness. It is why you must consult an expert in dental appliances, and sleep disorders, so you can find the most befitting mouth wear for your situation.