If you are prone to grind your teeth at night time or clinching your teeth during the day you could be causing permanent damage to your teeth. To reduce the extent of damage dentists will recommend that you use an Occlusal Splint which protects your teeth and reduces your risk of tooth fracture and the need for extensive dental treatments.
What is bruxism?
Some people grind their teeth while sleeping. This is known as bruxism and is an involuntary habit and most people are not even aware of doing it. Dentists do not fully understand why some people grind their teeth and some people don’t. It is thought that if you are a “grinder” it will be a lifelong habit, but you may go through periods where you grind more often or more severely than at others times. There could be a link between stress levels and grinding but this is yet to be fully verified. Untreated people with grinding habits will find that over many years there will be a gradual wear of their teeth and this can result in a serious dental problem.
How does bruxism affect your teeth?
As bruxism causes your upper and lower teeth to grind against each other. Over a long period of time this leads to gradual shortening and chipping of the chewing surfaces of your back teeth and the edges of your front teeth. This is called attrition and can lead to tooth sensitivity, fractures and also affect the appearance of your teeth. The pressure of the upper and lower teeth can also lead to a process called Abfraction which is where the enamel adjacent to your gums “flakes away” due to the pressure and forces placed on your teeth when grinding. Notches will form along your gum line; they may be shallow or sometimes very deep. Until recently dentists thought that these notches were caused by aggressive tooth brushing, however, we now know that most notches are caused by bruxism. These notches could become sensitive to cold, acidic drinks and if inadequately cleaned, decay can occur within the notches.
Bruxism can also lead to strain and injury to the jaw joint (TMJ joint) and associated muscles. This can lead to pain, clicking or locking of the jaw joint and headaches.
What is an occlusal splint?
An occlusal splint is a slim hard acrylic guard fitted to the upper jaw and covering the biting surfaces of your upper teeth. It is designed to be worn at night. An occlusal splint will not stop you from grinding or clenching. It does, however, guide the jaw into a neutral position which relieves some of the pressure on the jaw joint and very effectively protects your teeth against the destructive forces of bruxism.
Appointments for your personal Occlusal Splint
Our occlusal splints are custom made specifically for your teeth in a dental laboratory. Two appointments, each of 30 minutes are required:
Appointment 1: During this appointment Dr Zamani will take impressions of your upper and lower teeth and send them to the dental laboratory.
Appointment 2: During this appointment Dr Zamani will ensure that your Occlusal Splint fits comfortably around your upper teeth and do any adjustment if needed.