The Hows and Whys of Bruxism Guards

Bruxism affects up to 10% of the population and can lead to significant damage of the teeth and disorders of the jaw. Bruxism typically involves clenching of the jaw and grinding of the teeth during sleep. The symptoms include sensitive and damaged teeth, tender and sore muscles in the jaw and face, plus headaches and tinnitus. 

Question Words

Bruxism is a habit and a sleeping disorder. Studies have shown that bruxism often occurs in response to arousals during sleep. The strongest association has been with obstructive sleep apnoea. People suffering from sleep apnoea stop breathing many times each hour and the bodies emergency system partially wakes them as part of the process of getting them breathing again. These people therefore experience a large number of arousals each night.

The causes of bruxism are varied and range from increased stress and anxiety, to mental disorders and drug use. Unfortunately there are no cures for bruxism. 

The most popular treatment is the use of a mouth guard that is worn during sleep. Bruxism mouth guards come in different shapes and sizes, however they are all designed to keep the teeth apart and protect the teeth from the damaged caused by clenching and grinding.

Bruxism mouth guards can be purchased over-the-counter or from a dentist. They can look similar to a sports mouth guard and some people may even attempt to use a sports mouth guard to protect their teeth from bruxism. Using a sports mouth guard in this way can lead to more problems. The natural balance of the jaws and teeth can easily be disrupted by wearing an inappropriate oral device for long periods each night. Complications can include unwanted tooth movements, receding gums, over erupted teeth, and jaw pain.

Ideally any oral device that will be worn for a long period should be designed for the individual. Each persons mouth is unique. People's jaw shape, jaw size, and teeth all differ. To offer the best chances of protection and comfort the mouth guard should be made to perfectly fit the individuals jaw and teeth. 

Most over-the-counter mouth guards are designed for men's average jaw sizes. This means that women frequently struggle to find a size that fits comfortably.

Almost all mouth guards, whether over-the-counter or from a dentist are made from plastic. This has meant that the devices tend to be bulky and can be difficult for people to get used to wearing. The plastic has needed to be bulky in order to have the required strength. 

Other drawbacks of the plastic material include its relatively short lifespan and the intensive cleaning required. All plastic oral devices gradually deform and degrade to the point at which they need to be replaced. This is especially so with bruxism mouth guards because of the effects of the clenching and grinding.

There is another oral device for bruxism called the Somnowell that is made from chrome cobalt alloy. This material has been used for over 50 years in dentistry to make partial dentures. It's use in devices for bruxism is new however. The advantages are that the device is far smaller, many times more durable, and long lasting. The drawbacks are that it can only be obtained from a dentist. The clinical records required are more extensive, and the design and production is more complex. Futhermore the material is more expensive to produce and work with. The Somnowell device does  have some significant advantages, it is however more expensive than plastic devices.  

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Somnowell Inventor - Visiting Professor Simon Ash FDS MSc MOrth BDS

Prof. Ash is the inventor of the highly successful SOMNOWELL Chrome device for snoring and sleep apnoea.

The Somnowell Chrome is made to exacting standards in the Somnowell laboratory under the supervision of Visiting Professor Simon Ash. Prof. Ash and his master technicians create each Somnowell Chrome device using their wealth of experience and expertise.

Prof. Ash works at the forefront of his profession. He is a Consultant and Specialist Orthodontist with over 30 years clinical experience, with a special interest in sleep related breathing disorders, TMJD, and bruxism. He currently works in Harley Street London and two private hospitals in London as part of a multi-disciplinary team managing snoring and sleep apnoea, and is Visiting Professor of Orthodontics at the BPP University.