Several dental conditions may be prevented or resolved with mouth guards, especially for patients who grind and clench their teeth or play active sports. A mouth guard or mouth protector is a denture-shaped barrier that slips over your teeth. Although over-the-counter mouth guards are sold in drug stores, a customized guard made by a dentist will give you a customized fit.

Bruxism

Bruxism is the habit of clenching or grinding your teeth. Clenching is biting down with pressure for an extended period of time, while grinding is a side-to-side movement of the jaw. Bruxism is a round-the-clock habit for many people—you may be doing it all day and all night, and not even be aware. Your dentist can identify signs of bruxism by examining your teeth, another good reason for regular dental exams.

Our jaws are capable of exerting tremendous pressure, so these habits can crack your tooth enamel, create uneven wear on teeth, and cause mouth pain and headaches. Dr. Kirakosian offers patients custom-molded night-guards cast from lightweight, high-quality resin. This type of guard is far more comfortable than a one-size-fits-all product from the drugstore, because it’s made from an impression of your own teeth. The guard acts as a protective layer between your top and bottom teeth.

Sports safety

Next time you tune in to a pro NBA or NFL game, have a look at the players – they wear mouth protection. Whether you’re playing aggressive team sports or skateboarding on concrete, a mouth protector is always a good idea to protect teeth from sudden injury.

Sleep apnea

While this is not a dental issue, understanding sleep apnea is important to your overall health. It’s more than snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to temporarily stop breathing in your sleep. This happens because soft, relaxed tissues in your throat drop slightly to block the passage of air when you sleep. Snoring is a common symptom, disturbing your sleep as well as your partner’s! Sleep apnea also has other potential risks, since the loss of breath may diminish the flow of oxygen to your brain.

The goal in treating sleep apnea is to keep your airway open while you sleep. There are several solutions to this problem, including a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP machine). If your sleep apnea is on the mild side, a snore guard (a type of night guard) may enough to prevent your sleep from being interrupted. Snore guards push your lower jaw and tongue forward, keeping the airway open. Some snore guards are made with an adjustable strap that fits around your head and chin, to re-adjust your lower jaw.

While not all snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, a night-time mouthguard may also be helpful if you simply snore.