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Bite Guards for Sleep Apnea

Bite guards, also known as oral appliances or mandibular advancement devices, are an effective treatment option for individuals suffering from sleep apnea. These custom-fitted devices gently reposition the lower jaw forward, keeping the airway open and allowing for unobstructed breathing during sleep.

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What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder characterized by repeated episodes of breathing cessation during sleep. These pauses in breathing can last from a few seconds to minutes and can occur multiple times per hour, disrupting the normal sleep cycle and depriving the body of oxygen.

The most common form of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), caused by a physical blockage or obstruction of the airway, usually due to the relaxation of the throat muscles during sleep.

 

How Do Bite Guards Help with Sleep Apnea?

Bite guards work by gently advancing the lower jaw forward, which helps keep the airway open and prevents the collapse of the soft tissues in the back of the throat. This repositioning of the jaw allows for improved airflow and reduces the likelihood of breathing interruptions during sleep.

 

Benefits of Bite Guards for Sleep Apnea

Effective treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea

Non-invasive and comfortable to wear

Portable and easy to use while traveling

No loud noise or disruptive air pressure
(as with CPAP machines)

Improved sleep quality and reduced daytime fatigue

Reduced risk of complications associated with untreated sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke

Bite guards offer several additional benefits

beyond treating sleep apnea

Reduce Snoring

In addition to treating sleep apnea, bite guards can also help reduce snoring by keeping the airway open and preventing the collapse of soft tissues in the throat during sleep. By addressing these additional concerns, bite guards offer a comprehensive solution for individuals seeking to improve their overall oral health, reduce the risk of dental damage, and enhance their quality of sleep.

Alleviate Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder

Bite guards can help alleviate symptoms of TMJ disorder, such as jaw pain, headaches, and ear pain. By repositioning the jaw and reducing clenching or grinding, bite guards can relieve pressure on the temporomandibular joint and associated muscles.

Protect Dental Work

For individuals with dental restorations like crowns, bridges, or implants, bite guards can prevent excessive wear and tear on these expensive dental treatments. By cushioning the bite and distributing the forces evenly, bite guards can prolong the lifespan of dental restorations.

Improve Dental Alignment

Some bite guards are designed to gently reposition the jaw and teeth over time, gradually improving dental alignment and bite issues. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with mild to moderate misalignments or those who have completed orthodontic treatment.

Reduce Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

One of the primary uses of bite guards is to prevent teeth grinding or clenching, a condition known as bruxism. By creating a physical barrier between the upper and lower teeth, bite guards absorb the force of grinding and protect the tooth enamel from excessive wear and damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long does it take to get used to wearing a bite guard?

A: It may take a few nights to adjust to wearing a bite guard, but most patients find them comfortable and easy to use after the initial adjustment period.

Q: Are bite guards effective for severe sleep apnea?

A: Bite guards are generally recommended for mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea. For severe cases, other treatments like CPAP therapy or surgery may be more appropriate.

Q: Can bite guards cause jaw pain or discomfort?

A: When properly fitted and adjusted, bite guards should not cause jaw pain or discomfort. However, some temporary soreness or tightness in the jaw muscles may occur initially as the body adjusts to the new positioning.

Q: How long do bite guards last?

A: With proper care and maintenance, bite guards can last several years. Regular check-ups and adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit and effectiveness over time.

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