Most of my life I have shared a bedroom with someone, including my sister when I was younger, my husband, and the most prominent of all – myself. I mention this in such a way, because when making noise at night, such as snoring, labored breathing, teeth grinding and jaw clenching or clicking, one of the worst sufferers, is the actual person who has such problems.
I used to believe I was a special case, having had breathing problems as a child, which led to tonsillectomy, tubes in my ears, and such a narrow palate that braces to straighten my teeth and correct overbite became inevitable. Of course I am not alone growing up with a situation of incorrect alignment of bite, ear, nose and throat congestion, and life stress that leads to restricted breathing and teeth clenching while sleeping.
My particular journey went something along the lines of a serious fall down a set of stairs when I was about a year old, to severe ear aches when young, to loss of hearing due to fluid behind the ear drum, to tubes in the ear drum for years to allow drainage, to a vegan diet the majority of my life, to sealant on my back molars to protect the extensive wear from grinding and clenching at night, to braces with elastics to realign my upper and lower jaw from the narrow upper palate from breathing through my mouth, to a lot of chiropractic care, to various dentists until finally being referred to a TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) specialist dentist.
By this time I had the loudest painful jaw clicking ever was and the TMJ specialist discovered that my recent simple mouth guard on the lower teeth to stop grinding was exacerbating my jaw alignment by not allowing the condyle to glide over the trans mandibular joint as it should, thereby wearing away the pad that protects the jaw while opening and closing. He provided a solution to heal the pad that had been worn away at the joint by creating a mouth guard of sorts, referred to as an appliance. It was made up of two pieces, worn on the top and bottom teeth with a block protruding from the top piece setting the two layers in correct position to allow the joint to heal, AND…
To allow for the best positioning of the tongue, jaw and nasal passage, for clear breathing with the most open airway. This was an absolute surprise how effective this would be at eradicating snoring, labored breathing, tongue pushing the teeth forward or falling back, and of course, eliminate teeth grinding.
The reason that this is so exciting for me is that I believe there is a LARGE segment of the population with either sleep apnea, or poor breathing during sleep, who would never want to wear a C-Pap face mask, even if it will help them. My discovery in this process is extremely hopeful that a specialized mouth guard appliance during sleep could be the answer. It is not necessarily inexpensive. The process in my case was about $1,800, but I am so immensely grateful for the expertise of my dental specialist Dr. Miller in Northern California, and for the referral of my family dentist, Dr. Hilado. They are excellent in their field and I truly wanted to acknowledge them.
As a final note, I would like to mention that mouth guards for sleep can help so many, including those who snore, have sleep apnea, grind their teeth or have asthma.