Tips for Sleeping With a Mouth Guard

Are you grinding your teeth while sleeping? Do you know why this happens?

A new study has shown that grinding and clenching may be the result from another sleep problem known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when your airway is partially or completely obstructed which prevents you from breathing normally and grinding and clenching happens when your brain is trying to reopen an obstructed airway.

Why Exactly Grinding Happens and What It Has To Do With Sleep Apnea?

As you enter the deepest stages of your sleep, every muscle in your body begins to relax. Your neck muscles and muscles around your airway lose their tone. The jaw falls backwards and the tongue relaxes, expands and collapses thus partially or completely obstructing your airway.

This is why grinding and clenching may happen. In order to save you from suffocating and allow you to breathe normally again, your brain activates the jaw muscles and makes them to grind and clench.

This can repeat several times throughout the night which means that you will miss getting that deep, restorative stage of sleep which can cause you to wake up still feeling tired. If this continues for too long, it may lead to various health issues such as mood disorders, depression, suppression of the immune system, and dementia. 

How Can You Treat Grinding?

Leaving the grinding untreated would eventually cause your teeth to wear down and flatten. In some extreme cases, teeth can get worn down to the nerve leading to cracks in them, sensitivity to hot and cold, receding gums, jaw and mouth pain and even loosing teeth. 

To prevent this, you should treat grinding. It can be easily treated with a mouth guard, which is an oral appliance similar to a retainer that you wear during sleep and that keeps the jaw protruded in the deep sleep.

The mouth guard supports your airway and prevents it from obstructing regardless of how much your muscles relax. When the airway is supported and unable to collapse, the grinding will stop.

However, although mouth guards can be important for your oral health and your health in general, adjusting to sleeping with one isn’t always easy. They are usually made from hard or soft plastic and wearing one of them might require a short period of adjustment at first.

Here are some tips that can help you adjust to wearing a mouth guard.

How To adjust to Sleeping With a Mouth Guard?

Choose the Best Materials

Although you can buy your mouth guard over the counter, you can’t be sure that it will totally suit you. Some of them may be bulky and uncomfortable. Therefore, you should ask your dentist to make you one from thinner materials like Invisalign that will take up less space in your mouth, that won’t feel so bulky and that will be easier to get used to.

Get a Custom Fit Mouth Guard

Also, by asking your dentist to make a mouth guard for you instead of buying one over the counter, you can have a guard that will be custom fit specially for you.

Your dentist can take a mold of your mouth at a dental office and craft a mouth guard that is specifically designed for you, so you don’t have to deal with those that are too big or too small or that are uncomfortable and that will cut into the soft tissue of your mouth.

Your dentist can also show you how to wear the mouth guard and give you tips on getting used to it so you can adjust to sleeping while wearing it easier. 

Positioning the Mouth Guard

Although most mouth guards are fit for the upper teeth, there are also some fit for the lower teeth or both. To avoid struggling to find the right one, you can ask your dentist to make both an upper and a lower mouth guard for you so you can wear either one of them or both and see what is more comfortable for you. 

Timing

Put the mouth guard in your mouth before you get into bed to minimize the discomfort and the chances that you will eventually find it bothersome.

Putting it before you go to bed will give you time to get used to the feeling of wearing the device so it won’t be as distracting to you later. Most people usually fall asleep in 5-15 minutes.

Keep Your Mouth Guard Clean

You should make cleaning your mouth guard a part of your everyday dental care routine. Brush your teeth and your guard regularly to keep them free of bacteria. Without this, your mouth guard will become covered in bacteria and will likely begin to take on a foul odor.

Some mouth guards can even grow mold if you fail to clean them properly. By taking a proper care of it, you will prolong its lifespan and it will serve you better. Ask your dentist for advice on the best way to clean it.

Be Patient

Give it some time and you will eventually get used to wearing your mouth guard. Hang in there for at least a month. Wearing it should become your habit and you must be diligent about wearing it every night to get fully comfortable with it. Using it from time to time won’t help you become accustomed to it and won’t solve the problem for which it was prescribed. 

Combine Your Mouth Guard With a Good Mattress

To fall asleep easier while wearing a mouth guard and to treat sleep apnea that is in most cases the main cause of grinding and clenching you need to have a comfortable mattress that would perfectly suit you and your specific needs and sleep preferences.

If you don’t have such mattress, you can take a look at our Top 10 best mattress guide to see which mattress is our top pick for sleep apnea and choose the best one for you.