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Tales of a So-Called "Sleep Whisperer"

Posted by Amy E. McGlaughlin RDH, PHDHP on

Odds are if you are reading this you or someone you know is suffering with night-time clenching or grinding of their teeth (bruxism). This is not only annoying to those trying to sleep nearby, but it will likely be detrimental to your teeth and supporting structures in your mouth.

I’ve been a licensed dental hygienist for almost 25 years. Allow me to share a common scenario that plays during a typical check-up at the dental office. It may even strike a familiar cord with some readers.

Hygienist: “I am seeing several areas where the biting surfaces of your teeth are very worn down…I’m also noticing several areas with increased gum recession. Do you know if you grind your teeth when you sleep?”

Patient: (groans/sighs) “My husband says I do. He threatens to sleep in a different room because it’s so loud. I don’t think I do, but I have tenderness in my jaws sometimes…even up near my ears…like my teeth almost feel wiggly at times…maybe I do grind or clench them when I sleep…”

When the dentist comes in to examine the patient, the suspicion of bruxism is discussed and we all come to agree that it would be best to take some dental impressions (molds) and have a custom night guard made by the lab.

After the dentist leaves the room the patient hesitantly starts asking about the fee for the nightguard and if her insurance will pay for it. Most clinicians refer patients to the front office for quotes on pricing for treatment plans. All too often this is where the bruxism patient slips through the cracks. Why? Well, many times the several hundred dollars it will cost to try this custom night guard catches the client off-guard and they simply tell the billing and scheduling staff that they will “need to think about it”. 

Often dental insurances cover little or none of this expense. The patient goes home and the topic may not be addressed again until their next six-month visit. Meanwhile, that poor significant other is still listening to the horrible styrofoam rubbing against styrofoam sort of sound, the client’s teeth are continuing to be worn down, headaches and jaw symptoms are worsening, and unfortunately the supporting structures around the teeth are gradually being compromised and damaged due the stress and forces they undergo during bruxism.

Often the patient will confess to the staff that they just can’t afford to spend that kind of money out-of-pocket. Some will settle for an over-the-counter (OTC) nightguard that is comparable in thickness and comfort to an athletic mouthguard. Traditional nightguards often are not consistently worn because of the bulk and poor fit. Many people have told me they wake up and to find their OTC nightguard on their bedroom floor or they wake to a tired jaw and a pillow of saliva. (FYI, when we are asleep and our body and brain senses something in our mouth, the natural subconscious response is increased salivary flow and to chew! These are the first steps to the digestive process and we cannot stop them). I also hear so many accounts of folks gagging or grinding holes right through these night guards. No wonder compliance is such a barrier in bruxism management!

After being in dentistry for over two decades, I’ll admit, I’m easily excited by new “breakthrough” sort of products. When a product is an affordable option that could potentially also benefit a friend or patient, I read and research and then work to get it in the hands of those who need it. Unfortunately, affordable, effective innovations don't happen all that often. Several months ago was researching SISU Athletic Mouthguards, and stumbled across SOVA night guards, also made by Akervall Technologies. This was when my interest in SOVA night guard began.

Guess what I quickly learned? SOVA is very affordable, amazingly thin, and comfortable. One will not grind through SOVA, either. The 1.6mm thinness is deceptively strong! A custom fit can be easily achieved in your own kitchen. If you need to tweak the fit, simply remold areas of concern or start over by dropping SOVA back into the hot water. SOVA can be remolded up to 20 times! I’ve reached out to friends and family to be my personal “test subjects” and they are all quite impressed and happy with SOVA. I’ve received great feedback about the ease of molding, comfort of wearing and the difference they experience when they wear their SOVA to sleep.

One friend recently gave me her SOVA feedback, referring to me as the “sleep whisperer”! It’s only been a few weeks, but she feels SOVA is looking pretty promising! I believe that makes the SOVA creators the actual “sleep whisperers”, but I'm happy to have helped a friend get some relief since she had worn through previous night guards. All my personal testers are reporting success stories that I hope to share another time, so stay tuned, more SOVA success stories to follow! 

Look at the science of SOVA for yourself. I was very impressed by the research behind Diffusix technology. Diffusix and the SOVA design is what helps the forces of grinding dissipate, which is what will help preserve the periodontium (think of this foundation for your teeth being as crucial for tooth stability as the concrete foundation is to the stability your house). I am even more impressed by the actual customer feedback. For those who are willing and who can afford the custom dental office fabricated nightguard-- Kudos, you are taking important steps to ensure a healthy dentition for a lifetime! For those who cannot afford or who have had failed attempts with custom dental office or OTC night guards, I feel SOVA is an excellent alternative worthy of consideration. Feel free to share SOVA information with your dentist. You should be a candidate if you do not have any serious underlying dental problems. If you go to the dentist regularly and have had all necessary dental corrections made, but still have concerns about your tendency to clench or grind, go ahead and give SOVA guard a chance to change the way you sleep. I’ve found the people who try SOVA do not tend to get lax about wearing it nightly because it is so comfortable and natural to wear. Again, compliance is paramount with any bruxism management appliance – After all, a night guard can't work if you won't wear it!