So, you’ve just discovered that you grind your teeth at night and now your dentist has suggested that you wear a splint for teeth grinding. Although it probably sounds like some type of medieval torture device, it really is nothing more than a simple dental appliance that is worn inside the mouth during sleep.
Otherwise known as a bite guard or mouth splint, it is one of the best ways to stop the effects of teeth grinding such as:
- Excessive wear and tear on the teeth
- TMJD – jaw pain
- Neck pain
- Headaches and
- Facial pain
Perhaps the important point to remember, however, is that mouth splints for teeth grinding don’t stop teeth grinding.
Instead, bite splints for teeth are designed to protect both the teeth and jaw during the physical act of grinding teeth.
The reason for this is that teeth grinding (otherwise known as bruxism) is usually carried out subconsciously. This could be either during the day when anxiety or stress levels are high or when deep in concentration. Alternatively, it can also occur during the night when in deep sleep. This is known as nocturnal bruxism.
Despite the fact that a splint for teeth grinding is really a helping aid rather than a preventative cure, it remains an efficient tool in the protection of your teeth.
So now you know how they can help, let’s take a closer look at what they are and what they do.
Teeth grinding splints – How they work
Did you know that human jaws are capable of exerting a huge amount of bite pressure in comparison to the size of our skulls (up to 1300 Newtons)? Comparatively, this is more than many of our primate relatives. So just imagine the impact it can have on our teeth.
Fortunately, bite splints absorb and disperse much of the force used when teeth grinding by creating a physical barrier between your teeth.
As the force is absorbed into the splint, it also prevents the jaw muscles from clenching so hard.
Prolonged clenching causes problems such as TMJD which can lead to severe facial head and neck pain.
How teeth grinding splints can help
We mentioned earlier that splints for teeth grinding assist in the prevention of the physical aspects of bruxism. Therefore, they are best used in conjunction with proven bruxism prevention techniques. These include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Stress relief
When a bruxism sufferer is feeling stress or anxiety, the brain sends a message to the jaw to tighten. As the jaw tenses, it forces the upper and lower teeth together, causing them to rub or grind. Untreated teeth grinding can result in enamel deterioration -all the way down to the dentin. This can compromise otherwise healthy teeth and cause debilitating pain in some cases. In worst-case scenarios, when damage persists, the affected tooth or teeth may need to be removed.
This is where nightguards and bite splints come into play. They help to protect your teeth, saving you from a great deal of discomfort and the added expense of having to undergo costly dental work.
So what are they made from?
While some anti-bruxism devices are universal boil and bite models, the best type in the fight against teeth grinding is one which is custom-made by your dentist. Typically a custom-made mouth-splint is made from a hard plastic-like material and unlike softer plastic models, can last for several years or more.
A word about Mandibular advancement devices
In the fight against teeth grinding, one of the best oral appliances on the market is a mandibular advancement splint or device. First used on sleep apnoea patients as an alternative to cumbersome CPAP therapy, a mandibular advancement splint is designed to push the mandible forward. Not only does this help to open up the airway so patients are assured plenty of airflow and a safer night’s sleep, but the splints provide protection against teeth grinding during sleep. As a result, they are an effective treatment against the damaging symptoms of bruxism.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about teeth grinding splints!
Whether you’re a nocturnal jaw clencher or an out-and-out day-time teeth grinder, don’t let the devastating problems of bruxism and teeth grinding get in the way. Instead, come and talk to the team at Melbourne Dental Sleep Clinic.
In addition to connecting you to top specialists in the field of bruxism, Dr Damian Teo and the team will work with you to produce a bespoke splint for teeth grinding that is going to protect your teeth and gums while you seek further bruxism help.
Get in touch today and we’ll help you to find a workable solution.