Dental Night Guards and TMJ Splints

Bruxism is the clinical term used to define the unintentional clenching and grinding of teeth. It is believed that one in five people have some form of bruxism. The most common signs of bruxism are abnormal wear patterns and fracturing of the edges of the teeth. Other symptoms include headaches, jaw pain, and tooth pain. Because bruxism usually occurs at night while we are asleep, patients are not usually aware that they even have the condition. It is believed that stress is a major causative factor. The most effective treatment for bruxism is the dental nightguard. The nightguard is a small appliance, similar in shape to a clear retainer, that acts to eliminate abnormal wear on the teeth and inhibit the clenching reflex. Because bruxism can eventually lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction and generalized shortening of the teeth, it is recommended that a nightguard be prescribed at the first signs of bruxism. Nightguards are custom fabricated for each patient so that comfort, effectiveness, and durability are maximized. TMJ splints are similar to nightguards but are used to treat dysfunction of the TMJ and/or the associated muscles and ligaments.

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