TMJ Therapy and Occlusal Splints

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.

There is a good chance that someone you know wears one of these high-quality plastic appliances. Occlusal splints come in many different designs and are prescribed by your dentist for different but very specific reasons.

Reasons you may need an occlusal splint or nightguard:

  • Teeth grinding, or ‘bruxism’
  • Excessive jaw clenching
  • To protect existing 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

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 think, or know, that you are grinding your teeth, 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.

Your dentist is likely to recommend that you wear a nightguard while sleeping. This nightguard is a plastic device worn over your teeth while you sleep. It is custom made by your dentist to fit the specific contours of your mouth so that it is as comfortable as possible to wear.

Stress can sometimes trigger teeth grinding. Reducing your stress level close to bedtime 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 your dentist identifies significant damage to your teeth caused by grinding, you may require some form of cosmetic surgery to restore your teeth to their original condition.

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

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