Splints (or night guards) are a necessity if you’re grinding or clenching your teeth.
Otherwise known as bruxism, excessive clenching or grinding – such as can occur during sleep – leads to accelerated tooth wear, tension headaches and damage to the jaw joint.
A combination of both physical and psychological factors contribute to grinding, the most common being stress.
If teeth aren’t protected while grinding or clenching occurs, dental treatments such as fixing chipped teeth and fillings, as well as treating the development of hairline cracks with fillings, crowns, root canals or extractions. Furthermore, grinding leads to the shortening of your tooth height due to tooth wear, resulting in an older looking smile. The only way to repair a smile that’s been reduced in height, is with a cosmetic smile makeover involving crowns – often 6-8 of them.
Grinding your teeth is also a risk factor for gum disease – even if you only grind your teeth occasionally, several periods a year, the years add up. A splint will act as a helmet for your teeth. They are custom-made appliances specifically designed to fit over your upper or lower teeth to protect them from bruxism and jaw joint disorders. They also reduce the frequency and severity of related symptoms such as tension headaches and neck pain.
Splints offer a safe, easy and cost-effective way to prevent further wear and damage to teeth and jaw joint.
Generally speaking splints are made over 2 short appointments usually 1-2 weeks apart. In the first appointment a mould of your mouth is taken and at the second appointment the splint is fitted to your teeth. It’s best practice to bring your splint with you to your regular 6 monthly preventative care appointments so that your bite can be monitored and the splint adjusted if needs be. Many different types of splints exist and the type of splint is chosen based on patient and practitioner preference and types of muscular tension or jaw joint pain experienced.