A dental appliance is a special mouthpiece fashioned by a dentist to fit your teeth and jaw. Dental appliances have been used to treat grinding of the teeth and temporomandibular joint problems. Another use for dental appliances is the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
What Should I Look For in a Dental Appliance?
Comfort: Devices that pull the jaw forward are usually more comfortable than those that grab the end of the tongue to pull it forward. Custom made appliances using high quality materials are more comfortable than those made of cheaper materials; less bulk is better.
Durability: Over-the-counter devices generally last less than one year. Custom made appliances will require periodic adjustment and last for many years. Usually, the metal portions can be reused if the device has to be remade.
Adjustability and Mobility: The cheaper devices usually have only one size and setting. However, one size definitely does not fit all! Some, but not all custom made devices can be adjusted so that the right amount of jaw advancement is set. Some, but not all custom made devices allow for limited side to side and vertical motion. This increases the comfort to the wearer and prevents the development of jaw problems.
Cost: The price can vary, and your dentist will be in a better position to provide that information. As a basic rule-of-thumb, "You get what you pay for."
Some devices can be adjusted by the wearer. However, it is preferable to have a dentist make the adjustments to insure the maximum comfort and effectiveness.
Is it Safe for Use with my Existing Dental Work: the cheaper devices should not be used if you have a lot of dental work. Even the more expensive devices can damage dental work. Find out what the material is that comes into contact with your dental work and speak with your dentist about it.
Advantages of Using a Dental Appliance
Dental appliances are:
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