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NIGHT GUARDS, SPORTS GUARDS, & SLEEP APPLIANCES

Night Guards - If you frequently wake up with a sore jaw, a dull headache or tooth pain, you may want to ask a qualified dental professional if you are suffering from a condition called bruxism. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, affects about 10 to 15 percent of adults, according to the American Dental Association. This is an appliance typically worn while sleeping through the night, which is available without a prescription at most pharmacies. 

Night guards are also available through your dentist. Guards of this type tend to be of a higher quality and superior fit, as they are made in a special laboratory from an impression of your mouth carefully taken by a dental professional. 

Sports Guards - No matter which type of mouth guard you choose, it should be resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should also fit properly and not restrict your speech or breathing. The three types of mouth guards are:

  • Custom-made mouth guards — These are individually designed and made in your dentist's office or a professional dental laboratory. Not surprisingly, they are likely to provide the most comfortable fit and best protection. Your dentist makes an impression of your teeth and then constructs the mouth guard over a model of them. Because they fit and feel better, most athletes prefer customized mouth guards. However, they are also the most expensive.

  • Boil and bite mouth guards — These come in a pre-formed shape that can be altered by boiling the mouth guard in water, then biting into the warm plastic for a customized fit. They can be bought at many sporting goods stores, and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. Follow the directions carefully to avoid winding up with a poor-fitting mouth guard.

  • Stock mouth guards — These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don't fit very well. They can be bulky and may make breathing and talking difficult.

Sleep Appliances - Worn only during sleep, an oral appliance fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.