Tooth grinding is a common occurrence and often occurs while we are asleep.
Most people are therefore unaware that they are grinding (or tightly clenching the teeth) and only come to realize it when their partner complains of the noise or when they start to wear and fracture their teeth.
Grinding and clenching will damage your teeth by wearing down the tooth’s enamel. If this continues, it can result in fracture of teeth and fillings, in damage to deeper layers of the teeth, and long-term, can result in the loss of face height. Some people will also develop jaw pain and clicking.
Because most grinding occurs during sleep, the simplest solution is usually to use a special appliance called an “occlusal” SPLINT to prevent damage while grinding. This is usually worn every night (after you get used to it) — although if you particularly want to leave it out one night (occasionally), that is OK! The dentist will be able to advise you about the type of splint that is most appropriate for you.
Although patients take a little longer to get used to “hard” occlusal splint (which is very different from sports mouthguard material), the hard occlusal splint provides best protection for the teeth and best support for the jaw joint.
If your dentist determines that you in fact do grind your teeth (Bruxism), she may recommend the use of a custom fitted night guard to be worn on the upper (or lower) teeth to protect the biting surfaces of your teeth and minimize excessive forces in the jaw muscles and joints.
Be sure to bring your splint to every dental appointment.