Most people clench or grind their teeth at some stage
Known as bruxism, clenching and grinding is particularly common at night and is often triggered by increased stress and anxiety. But, did you know that clenching and grinding can cause stress on the jaw joints and chewing muscles, as well as the teeth, gums, and bone?
What causes bruxism?
Everyone clenches and grinds their teeth during sleep to varying degrees, it is a normal sleep behaviour. During periods of increased stress and anxiety this habit can increase to an extent that is damaging to the teeth and jaw joints and cause pain in the chewing muscles. In other cases, it may be a sign of a sleep disorder known as sleep apnoea.
How can it be treated?
When treating bruxism, the main aim is to reduce any pain and discomfort, while preventing further damage to the teeth and jaw joints. In most cases, we recommend the use of an occlusal splint, which is a specially designed protective dental appliance. It is customised to your teeth and bite, which means that it very comfortable to wear. Much like a mouth guard, an occlusal splint prevents the teeth from coming into contact with each other while you sleep. This means that teeth cannot grind against each other.
How long does the treatment process take?
If an occlusal splint is recommended for you, you will need to come in for two appointments. In the first, your dentist will thoroughly assess your jaw joints, muscles and teeth. This will allow us to decide which kind of occlusal splint is best suited to your needs. At this appointment, we will also take impressions of your teeth so that a customised splint can be constructed in a laboratory.
Once your splint has been fabricated, you’ll come in for a second appointment. We will check that your splint fits, and then give you instructions and advice on how to use and care for your splint. When you come in for regular dental check-ups, we’ll review your splint and make any changes if necessary.
In most cases, you’ll need to wear your occlusal splint at night. It can take some time to get used to the feeling of your new appliance in your mouth, but it is well worth persevering for the sake of your teeth.
Why is it important to treat bruxism?
If left untreated, the condition can cause severe damage, sometimes painful, to the teeth, jaw joints and chewing muscles. Bruxism can lead to:
- Cracked and broken teeth
- Tooth loss
- Worn teeth, short looking teeth
- Joint and muscle pain
- Changes in the bite that are adverse both in terms of function and aesthetics
The good news, however, is that it is possible to prevent further damage on the teeth with the use of a custom-made dental splint. Once you have had the condition treated, it is important to come in for regular check-ups to ensure that your splint is working as it should.
Do you grind your teeth? Stop the damage now! Read more about the nighttime and occlusal splints that we can provide here, or get in touch with us to request a consultation here. We offer high-quality dentistry for the whole family, and our team of friendly and gently dentists take their time to provide straightforward and honest advice.
To see the full range of treatments we have on offer, have a look here. If you have a question about one of our treatments, please don’t hesitate to ask. Fill in the online form here, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.