Oral Appliance Intervention for Nocturnal Bruxism (Grinding)

Most patients suffer from some degree of occlusal dysfunction.  This usually manifests itself as varying amounts of clenching and grinding during the night, followed by waking with pain in the joint and face.  And while a few people require radical intervention to address this condition, most patients can benefit from an orthopedic splint.

An orthopedic splint is different from a nightguard.  A nightguard is a simple piece of plastic used to separate the teeth.  Patients grind on the plastic rather than the teeth, thus preserving the teeth.  But because a nightguard pays little or no attention to the joint position, patients grind just as much or even more on the nightguard.  The result is that the guard acts like a “chew toy” during the night; most patients stop using it for this reason.

An orthopedic splint is  a customized device intended to rehabilitate and align the joint and all associated structures to minimize dysfunction and promote stability.  Itallows the temporomandibular (jaw) joint to seat in the fossa (socket), discouraging compensatory clenching and grinding.  This protects the teeth and results in better sleep, less grinding, and greater comfort. And because it doesn’t act like a “chew toy,” patients find it easier to use.

Our orthopedic splints follow the same design parameters established for MAGO splint therapy.  The only difference is that the orthopedic splint is worn only at night.  The records for the splints are taken digitally and then sent to a lab in Germany, where they are designed digitally and then milled from a solid piece of heat- and pressure-cured plastic.  This results in a clear appliance with no taste and no loose chemicals to leach into the mouth.  Click on this link to learn about the dental laboratory that makes our splints: https://www.natural-esthetics.com/professional-tmd-treatment.html

Oral Appliance Intervention for Sleep Apnea

We refer any at-risk patients to their physicians.  Much of the time, a patient is able to work with their sleep physician to control and manage sleep apnea, often with a c-pap.  Other patients require surgical intervention.  For surgical patients, we collaborate closely with their orthodontist and surgeon to encourage a great outcome and a stable bite relationship following surgery.  But other patients simply cannot tolerate the c-pap and are unwilling or unable to consider surgery.  For these patients, we offer oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea.

Our doctors and staff have undergone specific training with the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and are knowledgeable about the various appliances used to manage apnea.  Most of these appliances position the lower jaw forward (these are called mandibular repositioning devices) and open the airway, allowing better breathing during sleep.  A patient’s unique airway challenges and dental and joint structure help to determine the ideal appliance design.  Unfortunately, for most patients, the oral appliance results in unwanted changes in the bite and joint position.  However, these changes generally pale in comparison to the risk of untreated apnea.  In the event of changes or symptoms associated with an oral appliance for sleep apnea, our team is trained to manage and treat symptoms and help our patients comply with appliance use.