General Dental

Splints and Nightguards

Oral Splints, also known as nightguards, are dental appliances that allow the ligaments and muscles in the jaw and mouth to relax, which helps to relieve some of the tension that can be caused by grinding and clenching. They also work to protect your teeth from wearing down as a result of grinding and clenching.
 

What causes teeth grinding

Teeth grinding (bruxism) is typically classified as a sleep disorder. This is because it primarily occurs while you are asleep. Most people are completely unaware that they have bruxism because they are not conscious while they are doing it and are only made aware when a dentist brings it to their attention or when they experience pain or tightness in the morning.

Some of the signs that you are grinding or clenching at night are:

  • Grinding sounds while you are sleeping at night. A partner or family member most commonly identifies this
  • Tooth or jaw pain in the morning
  • Headaches
  • Sores on the inside of the cheek
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Loose or mobile teeth

Other things to consider

Many things may cause you to clench or grind your teeth at night. Stress and anxiety are some of the more common causes for both adults and children. Other causes can be:

  • Poor alignment of your upper and lower teeth
  • Sleep disorders – such as sleep apnea
  • Poor lifestyle habits – alcohol consumption, smoking, drug use, etc

 

How an Occlusal Splint can help

Sometimes there may be multiple factors that are contributing to your nighttime grinding, and the cause can sometimes be hard to determine. Long term or continuous grinding not only cause damage to your teeth, but it will eventually lead to damage to your gums, jaw, and the muscles in your face. An oral splint forms a protective barrier that helps to preserve the enamel of your teeth.

Oral splints are viewed as a durable dental appliance, their longevity depends on how much you grind and clench your teeth. We like to use the metaphor of a pair of running shoes and an athlete. While a standard pair of running shoes will likely last the average person years, an athlete will probably wear through theirs within a couple of months. The same applies to oral splints.
 

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