Occlusal Dental Splints for Bruxism
Most people clench or grind their teeth at some point in their lives, mainly at night time. These actions are also known as bruxism. An occlusal splint is designed to protect you when you’re fast asleep and don’t know the damage you’re inflicting on yourself. Most people grind their teeth silently and have no awareness of doing it, so it’s important that your dentist checks your teeth for any signs of tooth grinding.
Clenching and grinding of the teeth can produce excessive stress on the jaw joints and the jaw muscles, as well as on the teeth and their supporting gums and bone. Tooth wear can result in unsightly teeth, tooth drifting, as well as increase the chance of tooth chipping and cracking. In severe cases, a tooth that has cracked might not be able to be saved, which could result in the need for a denture or dental implant; so prevention is the key.
What causes bruxism while sleeping?
Quite often clenching and grinding your teeth can be related to stress and anxiety. Sometimes it may also be related to a sleep condition like sleep apnoea. Other times, it is just an undesirable habit, which you can’t consciously stop doing because it occurs during sleep.
Treating bruxism during sleep
If your clenching and grinding are related to sleep apnoea, it is important that the apnoea disorder be addressed, as it can significantly impact on your quality of life and put you at increased risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and depression. However, when apnoea isn’t an issue, it can be possible to manage bruxism during sleep with an occlusal splint.
What is an occlusal splint?
Occlusal splints are usually constructed from resilient plastic. An occlusal splint is customised to your teeth and bite, ensuring your best possible protection and comfort. Occlusal splints fit into your mouth just like a mouthguard would, and stop the teeth coming into contact with each other during sleep, effectively stopping you from grinding them against each other. The fabrication of an occlusal splint requires two main appointments:
- Assessment and impressions
Your dentist will assess your jaw joints, jaw muscles and teeth to determine the type of occlusal splint which is best suited to your circumstances. Your dentist will then take impressions of your teeth which a dental technician will use to construct your customised splint in an Australian laboratory.
- Splint try-in
Your dentist will check the fit of your occlusal splint and provide instructions on how to use and care for your splint. Your splint should be reviewed periodically by your dentist at your regular check-up appointments.
When do I wear an occlusal splint?
Occlusal splints are usually worn at night. Getting accustomed to sleeping with a new appliance in the mouth will take time, but your perseverance will be rewarded as protecting your teeth from clenching and grinding forces is an investment in the health of your teeth, and will save you time and money in the future.
Bruxism treatment Crows Nest
If you believe you may be damaging your teeth through clenching and grinding during sleep, it’s essential that you address this issue before it causes further, irreversible damage to your natural teeth. Contact Dental On Clarke today to determine whether you could benefit from an occlusal splint.
Occlusal Splint FAQs
There are many different factors that can determine how long you will need to wear your occlusal splint. Predominantly, it will depend on what is causing your bruxism.
If you’re grinding your teeth because of short-term stress, you may only need to wear an occlusal splint to bed temporarily.
However, if your bruxism is longer-term, your dentist may prescribe you with an occlusal splint as a more permanent solution.
We recommend seeking the opinion of a qualified dentist to determine what the best form of treatment is for you and the time frame regarding that treatment.
These are all custom-made dental appliances, but they serve different purposes.
- An occlusal splint is a removable appliance which is worn at night to help protect the teeth from the damage caused by teeth grinding.
- Braces are metal, ceramic or wire devices that are bonded to the teeth in order to align crooked teeth or a crooked jaw.
- A retainer is removable and is usually worn at night in order to keep straightened teeth in position after orthodontic treatment.
Using an athletic mouthguard to stop grinding your teeth might sound like a cost-effective idea, but it isn’t.
A boil-and-bite mouthguard:
- Is not meant to be worn for a long amount of time
- Does not cover the same surface area as proper night splints
- Is not designed for the amount of bacterial activity that takes place in your mouth at night
- Can permanently change your bite, as the shape and firmness of a sports mouthguard are different from a proper splint
We encourage you to book an appointment at Dental On Clarke where one of our friendly dentists can help you determine what the best course of treatment is for your issue.