Occlusal Splints (Night Guards)

Do you wake up in the morning with a headache or sore facial muscles? Are your teeth sensitive to cold or touch? If so, you may be suffering from bruxism, also known as teeth grinding or clenching.

Bruxism can happen at any time of the day as it is a subconscious behavior that can be aggravated by stress and anxiety. People may unknowingly grind their teeth during the day, but it most commonly occurs at night where the biting force resulting from bruxism exerted can range from 100 to 600 psi (pounds per square inch). This incredible force can cause various dental problems.

Some symptoms or problems caused by bruxism include:

  • Wearing or breaking of the teeth – The constant grinding and clenching of one who suffers from bruxism will eventually wear down the teeth, shortening them and making them appear flat. The pressure may also create fractures or cracks in your teeth or fillings, which eventually will cause them to break or chip.
  • Gum recession and sensitive teeth – Over time bruxism wears away the enamel of your tooth, exposing the dentin and making it sensitive to cold or pressure. At the gum line, the “rocking” back and forth motion of teeth grinding causes the gums to recede and the neck of the tooth to break away resulting in an area at the gum line that is a notch. You can actually catch your fingernail in this area, which may also be extremely sensitive.
  • Sore Muscles, Headaches, Ear Aches, TMJ problems – When you brux, you use the muscles in the cheek and temple area. Because of the extreme pressure exerted, these muscles get overused and are sore when you wake up in the morning. Sometimes you will feel this muscle along with a headache or earache. The TMJ joint, which connects the upper and lower jaw may also be tender. The joints get compressed, reducing the blood circulation. The soreness may make talking and chewing slightly uncomfortable.

If you suffer from bruxism, then you should get fitted for a nightguard. There are different designs to fit the various situations. You could get a custom made guard, which will act as a buffer and absorb the majority of the biting force. It will protect your teeth from further wear and tear. Another option for the treatment of bruxism is a splint to reposition your bite correctly or a device to act as a clenching suppression system for when your teeth are grinding. It is important to have a dentist make the guard to ensure it provides a correct bite. If you have an ill-fitting guard causing your bite to be off, your jaw and facial muscles will not be able to relax and it will actually aggravate your bruxism. It is also important to reduce stress and anxiety in your life, which is known to aggravate bruxism. Give us a call today for more information!

Night Guard (Occlusal Splint)
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