At night while we’re sleep and meant to be our most relaxed, there can be times when the stress and pressure of our lives works its way into our dreams and our body tenses up.
In this unconscious state you may begin to clench (squeeze your teeth tight shut) or grind (tightly clamp down on your teeth and then rub them back and forth or sideways) your teeth. Both of these behaviours have very unpleasant consequences.
Grinding or clenching of teeth (clinically termed bruxism) is often believed to be stress related and can be triggered by starting a new job or a new school, examinations, relationship or other personal crisis.
In some instances the person who has the habit of grinding their teeth is not aware of it and often it is the spouse who hears the grinding during the night.
In some situations, it may even be caused by a poor bite, caused by teeth drifting and moving or fillings being too high.
This unnecessary wearing down of your teeth, can be stopped or at least minimised with the use of a splint or night guard.
Custom-made splints are designed to fit between the upper and lower teeth and act as a layer to stop your teeth making direct contact. It is the splint that takes all the pressure rather than your precious teeth.
Your dentist may recommend they be used over short periods of time or at night to ease muscle tension and stabilise your jaw.
A night guard, another name for a splint, may also be created to keep your teeth in a fixed position. A position where your jaw would sit naturally at rest if you were wide awake and relaxed. When you where the night guard during sleep, the splint prevents you from rubbing your teeth against each other back and forth or sideways and stops you from grinding.
While a splint won’t necessarily ease any jaw muscle aching in severe cases, it will reduce, if not stop the terrible sound of you grinding your teeth at night.
Ask your dentist about a splint if you’re waking up with sore jaw muscles or someone tells you you’re grinding your teeth when you sleep. It may just help prevent you fracturing or wearing down your teeth.
Fissure sealants prevent cavities from developing by sealing your teeth with a special restoration to form a protective barrier between your tooth enamel and plaque.