Chronic jaw clenching and grinding one’s teeth is called bruxism. While it can happen any time of day, it often occurs at night causing an individual to wake up with any number of symptoms including jaw pain, headaches, and sore teeth that may feel loose. Although, stress and anxiety are the most common causes of bruxism there may be other contributing factors such as a sleep disorder, an abnormal bite, as well as teeth that are missing or poorly aligned.
To alleviate the symptoms of bruxism, wearing a night guard while sleeping is frequently recommended. This appliance is designed to fit over the teeth and to keep the jaws slightly apart. Wearing a night guard prevents a number of damaging events including muscle strain, excessive pressure on the jaw joint (the TMJ), and such dental damage as chipped or cracked teeth resulting from the teeth grinding against each other.
In addition to preventing damage to the soft and hard tissues surrounding the orofacial cavity, a custom night guard fabricated at the dental office can help curb a bruxism habit and give the wearer a better night’s sleep.
- To help minimize tooth wear due to grinding, reduce muscle pain and tension, and diagnose muscle and joint pain issues, a removable appliance called an Anterior Bite Plane may be recommended.
- An anterior bite plane is a small appliance fabricated by your doctor that is placed on your upper front teeth creating a platform on which your lower teeth can sit and glide. It is typically worn while sleeping but can be worn during the day, typically not to exceed 8 hours.
- While creating a platform for the front teeth to touch, the appliance prevents back teeth from touching, protecting them from wear and minimizing stress on the jaw muscle.
- In addition, an expertly constructed appliance will help put the jaw joint into its most natural resting state, allowing you and your doctor to evaluate the extent of the disparity between that position and your current bite.
- In the right circumstances, an Anterior Bite plane is an excellent choice to help decrease clenching and grinding, and virtually eliminate the tooth destruction caused by it. It can promote the longevity of your natural teeth and reduce the need for extensive restorative dentistry in the future.