There are a multitude of benefits to a good night’s sleep. Our understanding of obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders is ever growing. Heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular problems have all been linked to various sleep disorders. In other words, not sleeping well could kill you.
There are a multitude of appliances made by dentists that can help patients get a good night of rest. I’d bet that if you gathered ten dentists in a room, you’d get at least a half dozen different “favorite” nighttime appliances. Most of them would work. Alas, even in healthcare, there’s an art and a science.
So what can a proper appliance do for you?
Nightguards are usually made to protect teeth and dental restorations from bruxism or nighttime clenching and grinding. Most often, a custom fit hard plastic guard is made to cover all of the upper or lower teeth. Various ramps or loops can be placed into the appliance to reposition the jaws and relieve headaches, muscle tension, and/or help hold open the airway.
Removable retainers are another dental appliance made for nighttime wear. Over time, most people’s teeth have a tendency to drift forward and crowd up in the front. This is especially common with the bottom front teeth. Different types of retainers can be made to prevent this from happening or to correct minor crowding after it occurs. We dentists have also learned that people who had orthodontics (braces) generally need something to keep their teeth straight for the rest of their lives. Otherwise, the teeth may not stay where we put them.
Appliances that treat snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnea come in many shapes, sizes, and even a few colors. Most of these appliances are made to help position the lower jaw so that a person’s airway stays open during the deep stages of sleep. Oral appliances cannot treat all forms of sleep apnea, but can be a good alternative for people who cannot wear a CPAP machine. These dental appliances work very well if made and used properly.
I know because I wear one myself.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.