Nighttime Issues / Appliances
Grinding of the teeth (or forceful clenching) while awake or asleep can cause wear/chipping of teeth when they contact each other and also cause damage to muscles and joints. Other symptoms include facial pain, headaches and joint pain. While grinding and clenching does happen during stressful situations while awake, this action at night is harder to detect and control. If facial pain or headaches are obvious upon waking and nighttime clenching/grinding is suspected, there are several types of acrylic mouth guards that can be fitted by your dentist. These prevent additional damage to your mouth and can reduce these painful symptoms that can hinder daytime effectiveness.
Snoring is caused by having partial obstruction while mouth-breathing during sleep. This could be due to the tongue or other skin folds within the mouth or throat. If the obstruction is minor, the sleeper continues to breathe in a normal rhythm, even while making noise. This type of snoring can often be treated successfully with one of several devices similar to an athletic mouth guard that is worn while sleeping. This night guard is fitted by the dentist and gives relief to both the sleeper and his/her spouse.
Sleep Apnea happens if the obstruction within the mouth is great enough to actually block the passage of air for a significant amount of time, lasting even minutes. If this happens repeatedly, snoring is indicative of obstructive sleep apnea, which reduces the blood-oxygen level in the brain and causes the brain to partially rouse itself out of deep sleep, leaving the sleeper feeling exhausted in spite of sleeping enough hours. Sleep apnea has been linked to a number of serious health risks including high blood pressure and stroke.
Diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea requires a sleep study by a physician sleep specialist. Up to 75% of obstructive sleep apnea cases can be successfully treated with the night guard appliances described above. Your dentist and physician can work together to help you find the most appropriate treatment for this condition.
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