Occlusal Splints, Teeth Grinding and TMJ

What is an Occlusal Splint?

Occlusal Splints are otherwise known as nightguards and you may also have heard the terms ‘bite plate’ or ‘Talon Splint’. It is often prescribed for use to reduce the wear and tear on teeth for patients. Occlusal splints are custom made and prescribed by your dentist for different reasons.

occlusal splintsReasons you may need an occlusal splint or nightguard:

  • Teeth grinding, or ‘bruxism’
  • Excessive jaw clenching
  • To protect teeth
  • To protect a new dental restoration
  • To correct your bite if you have a problem with your jaw joints (structural TMJ disorders)

Do you grind your teeth at night?

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a common condition that affects both adults and children. It occurs when a person grinds or clenches their teeth, usually while they’re sleeping.
In many cases, the person does not even know that they are grinding their teeth. Typically, it is the person’s parent or partner that hears the grinding while they sleep. It is important to treat bruxism as quickly as possible because it can damage teeth and diminish the chances of a good night’s sleep.

Symptoms of teeth grinding

Although you are not likely to hear the actual grinding of your teeth, there are several other symptoms that you may notice, including:

  • morning headaches
  • earaches
  • sore jaw muscles
  • tooth wear

Due to unusual wear and tear on your teeth, your dentist also may be able to detect bruxism during a full examination.

Why teeth grinding should be treated

If not dealt with properly, teeth grinding can loosen or crack your teeth and, in rare cases, teeth can be lost. Untreated, this condition can also cause damage to your temporomandibular joints in your jaw.

Dental treatments for teeth grinding

If you experience any symptoms, your first step should be to see your dentist. The dentist will evaluate your teeth and look for wear and tear that is often caused by bruxism.

Stress can sometimes trigger teeth grinding. Reducing your stress level can be helpful. Relaxation techniques to reduce the intensity of teeth grinding include:

  • listening to music
  • reading a book
  • taking a warm bath
  • meditating

If you suspect that you are grinding your teeth, call our friendly reception staff to book an appointment to talk about the treatment options for bruxism.