Teeth clenching and grinding — or “bruxism” — is a common habit that many people do subconsciously. Most individuals suffer from bruxism when they sleep, while others do it out of habit when they feel stressed. Although tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the entire body, when teeth grind against other teeth with extreme pressure, it causes all of them to wear down. We call this process “attrition,” and it results in issues such as
- Flattened, worn teeth
- Fractured dental work
- Jaw pain and headaches
- Gum recession
- Tooth sensitivity
- Abfractions (chips in the enamel along the gumlines)
Daytime bruxism can take a long time to consciously break the habit. But if you’re grinding your teeth at night, you can’t help if you’re doing it or not. Wearing a protective splint will place a small amount of buffer space between your upper and lower teeth, preventing them from clenching against each other while you sleep.
We use a product called CLEARsplint™, which is slightly flexible and more comfortable to wear than traditional rigid occlusal splints. While it can take a few nights to get used to, most of our patients find this type of appliance to be an easy adjustment to make.
A Smart Investment for Your Smile
Getting an occlusal splint will help you protect your teeth from future wear and safeguard any investments you’ve made in past (or future) dental work. It also retrains the muscles to relax, lessening the tension and likelihood of headaches or TMJ disorder.
Preventative dentistry is something we take seriously. If we feel that you’re beginning to show the effects of tooth wear and grinding during your exam, we may suggest wearing an occlusal splint when you sleep. Do you notice sore jaws when you wake up in the morning or are you starting to see evidence of tooth wear?