What is sleep bruxism?
Bruxism is the grinding or clenching of teeth, except for chewing.
Grinding or clenching the teeth tightly is a tooth-damaging habit that is usually repeated during the night and is not consciously controlled by most people.
Teeth clenching during the day is more common during periods of intense fatigue or mental work. When it happens during the day, it is more easily perceived.
Bruxism often occurs in times of stress and subsides when the person is calm.
What can bruxism cause?
This repetitive habit can cause functional-occlusal as well as aesthetic problems in the mouth. Usually, people complain of pain in the jaw or the joints of the jaws and as a direct result the opening of the mouth is restricted. They also complain of migraines or regular morning headaches. Suffice it to say that published study findings report that patients with tension-type headaches, which were found to be due to bruxism, clenched their jaws during sleep 14 times more intensely than asymptomatic patients in the control group. In addition, it has been found that the intensity of contraction in the temporal muscle doubles during sleep.
The habit of bruxism can also be destructive for the teeth, causing fractures, abrasion and worn tooth enamel. The neck area of the teeth is eroded, fillings or prosthetic work are fractured and teeth are moved. In general, the teeth lose their proper morphology, they look chipped and damaged. It is difficult to get rid of the habit of grinding, but you can protect yourself from its effects by using a special splint.
What is an occlusal splint?
It is a special device, made of transparent hard acrylic, which covers the chewing surfaces of all teeth, in the upper or lower jaw. It is usually applied at night, but can also be worn during the day, if necessary. The splint prevents the teeth from closing in their normal position and balances the pressure so that the muscles relax and shrink, until the functional symptoms and pain disappear.
The use of the splint also protects the teeth from abrasion, reduces their mobility and protects any prosthetic work from damage and fractures due to intense and often excessive pressure.
In order for the splint to help effectively, it must be completely stable, made of hard acrylic and allow free horizontal and lateral movements of the lower jaw.
Soft splints are unsuitable for the case of bruxism, as they make it worse.
What is the procedure for making an occlusal splint?
First, an accurate impression of the teeth of the upper and lower jaw is taken, while the movements made by the jaw are also recorded and special measurements of the closure, the way the teeth close together, are taken.
Then the splint is prepared and at the next appointment, it is placed and adjusted to your mouth.
If grinding occurs in times of stress and subsides when the person is calm, the splint should be used for as long as the symptoms of the grinding are observed.
The splint does not need to be replaced unless it is damaged or something changes in the position of the teeth, for example, if prosthetic work is done.