Missing and drifted teeth may result in an occlusion that places damaging strain on the joints and muscles that are responsible for your jaw’s movement. This is particularly so when you grind (brux) on your teeth during sleep. Nocturnal grinding is almost universal, but is increased during periods of stress. The result can be debilitating jaw pain (often appearing as ear ache) and tension headaches. Your jaw joints may have also been damaged by past episodes of trauma to the jaw.
Thankfully we can provide an occlusal splint to wear during sleep that reduces the strain on the tempero mandibular joints. It is an acrylic arch that usually is fitted to the upper jaw and provides a more level surface for the opposing teeth to move against. Following assessment of your occlusion, muscles and joints, we need to take accurate impressions and bite registration to carefully fabricate a splint that guides the jaw to reduce load on the joints. Most patients are happy to wear their occlusal splints during periods of stress, but some patients may need to consider orthodontic treatment, occlusal adjustment or occlusal rehabilitation if they find they need to wear their splint continuously.
Occlusal splints are also used to limit damage to teeth from grinding. During the day, the teeth meet only briefly for chewing, talking and swallowing. If you are bruxing during sleep, the forces on the teeth can be long and sustained. This is more noticeable when a number of teeth have been extracted and the remaining teeth take more than their normal share of the load. This is especially a problem if you have worn through the harder outer enamel and exposed the less resistant dentine of the tooth.