What are Occlusal Guards?


Oral appliances such as occlusal guards and sleep apnea devices are used to help our patients improve their quality of life. Both occlusal guards and sleep apnea devices are custom-made appliances that are made to fit the unique anatomy of a person’s mouth. They are made from comfortable materials and can help offset the symptoms and side effects of conditions that greatly affect quality of life.

Purpose of an Occlusal Guard

The purpose of an occlusal guard is to protect biological teeth and custom restorations from the effects of grinding and clenching the teeth. The act of clenching and grinding teeth, also known as bruxism, wears down tooth enamel, can increase the incidence of dental injuries and tooth decay, and strain the joints (TMJs) that connect the lower jaw to the skull. An occlusal guard will fit over the teeth to prevent contact during episodes of bruxism from damaging teeth and dental work.

How an Occlusal Guard is Made

Our practice utilizes advanced technology to determine the specifications of a custom occlusal guard. Our prosthodontist, Dr. Bicakci, uses T-Scan, a revolutionary device that is positioned inside the mouth. This device uses advanced sensors to analyze the contact points between teeth when the mouth is closed. The data generated by T-Scan will be used in the fabrication process of a custom occlusal guard to ensure that it is effective and comfortable.

Sleep Apnea and Your Wellbeing

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that can rob a person of his or her quality of life. This condition often goes undetected because it manifests its symptoms while a person is sleeping. OSA involves a pattern of breathing cessation followed by slight wakefulness, which can occur many times throughout the night. Breathing cessation, or apnea, is caused by airways obstructed by soft oral tissues. As a patient ceases to breathe, the brain will signal the body to waken slightly so that breathing resumes. Sleep apnea impedes its sufferers of rejuvenating rest because sleepers cannot transition naturally through each sleep cycle.

Untreated sleep apnea causes sleep deprivation, which can manifest as persistent fatigue and impaired cognition. Beyond the common side effects of sleep deprivation, a wealth of research suggests that OSA contributes to heart disease, pulmonary issues such as hypoxia, and stroke.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

In the past, the most common treatment protocol for obstructive sleep apnea was the use of a CPAP machine. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines utilize a steady stream of air to keep oral tissue from obstructing airways. While this treatment is effective, the machinery is bulky and loud. It can also severely dry out the mouth. Fortunately, there is a more comfortable option. Sleep apnea devices are custom oral appliances that hold the lower jaw in a forward position. This will keep airways open without the need for uncomfortable or noisy machinery.

If you believe you might have sleep apnea or have worn down teeth caused by bruxism, call our office to schedule an appointment with our team.

What our Patients Say

  • I recently went to Lincoln Dental Care as a new patient visiting for regulatory cleaning and check-up. I was very pleased with my service! I was accidentally several minutes late to my appointment, but the office was still very willing to see me, without any question.
    A hygienist by the name of Stephanie was so personable and friendly throughout the whole process of cleaning my teeth. She did an excellent job and left my teeth feeling very clean. I appreciated her showing me the x-rays and explaining all of what she was doing. She communicated concerns well with the dentist in order to make sure they were both on the same page.
    Dr. Nihal Bicakci checked my teeth and ensured that my mouth was healthy. She gave suggestions of precautions to take at home, and procedures that might need to be done in the future in order to maintain my healthy mouth.
    Overall, I was very pleased with my experience with here. All of the staff I interacted with was very professional and very kind. I would suggest Dr. Bicakci to others looking for a dentist, and plan on continuing to see her with any other procedures I may need.

    Paige B.
  • Excellent from start to finish. The Dentist and his staff went above and beyond in customer service, skill and professionalism. I had previously gone to a Dentist in the neighborhood who had basically tried to tell me I needed a whole bunch of things that I personally knew that I did not need in order to jack up the bill, which left me with a really bad taste in my mouth…no pun intended! 🙂
    I was very skeptical of the next Dentist I would see and afraid that this situation would happen again.

    I saw Dr. Hirant Bicakci today and it was such a positive experience. He really made me understand the real issues with what I needed done and was very skilled in what he was talking about. You can tell that he’s a very educated Dentist and wasn’t trying to sell me all kinds of things that I really did not need.

    His hygenist Stephanie was extremely nice and sweet as well. She went way above and beyond a basic cleaning, spending extra time with both me and my boyfriend who had an appointment today. We will definately be returning to this office as needed from now on and it’s a really nice relief to finally find a Dentist who we can trust.

    Christina r.

Meet your Prosthodontists

Drs Nihal and Hirant Bicakci, who are both Prosthodontists, have more than eighteen years of dental experience and they dedicate their skills, expertise and education to create the perfect and healthy smiles.

Common Questions

What is an occlusal guard?

An occlusal guard is an oral appliance that is worn to protect teeth and other oral structures from damaged caused by bruxism (the habit of clenching and/or grinding teeth). Most patients will wear an occlusal guard during sleep but if their bruxism is severe, they may need to wear one during the daytime, too.

Occlusal guards are custom made for each patient so that they fit perfectly over teeth and inside the mouth. These oral appliances are comfortable because they are made from soft yet protective materials. Occlusal guards are ideal for those who have a history of tooth wear and damage caused by bruxism and those who have custom restorations like veneers or crowns.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the habit of clenching and grinding teeth. Many patients brux their teeth as a response to anxiety, stress, chronic pain, or trauma. Over time, this habit can weaken tooth enamel substantially. As tooth enamel breaks down, teeth become vulnerable to becoming brittle, decayed, and permanently injured. If a person has dental work like fillings, crowns, and veneers, severe bruxism can damage these restorations, which may require further repair or replacement.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder than involves airway obstruction while a person is at rest. During episodes of apnea, a sleeper will literally stop breathing for small periods of time. Soft tissues collapsing into, and ultimately obstructing, the airways causes this cessation of breathing. As breathing stops, the brain sends signals to rouse the sleeper slightly to reinitiate the breathing cycle. Even though the sleep apnea sufferer doesn’t fully awaken, his or her sleep cycle will be disrupted. In fact, sleep apnea prevents a person from natural progressing through each stage of sleep and the REM cycle.

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to many health complications. This condition causes severe sleep deprivation and fatigue because it encumbers a person’s ability to achieve deep, restful sleep. Moreover, the cycle of apnea and waking strains the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Research indicates that sleep apnea increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, and hypertension. Sleep apnea impairs motor and cognitive function as well.

Will a sleep apnea device help my snoring?

Snoring commonly accompanies sleep apnea. This is because bulky oral tissue that block airways vibrate during breathing. Since a sleep apnea device repositions the lower mandible (jawbone) forward, the airway stays open. Many people who suffer with sleep apnea and use a sleep apnea device also enjoy a reduction in obstructive and loud snoring.

Why do I need a sleep apnea device?

Simply put, you need a sleep apnea device to achieve the rest you need and deserve while you sleep. This device will help prevent episodes of apnea and, in doing so, stave off the many negative effects of this sleep disorder.