Most people who clench or grind are not aware that they are doing so, but may have the classic signs and symptoms:
- chronic facial pain and tension headaches;
- stiffness and pain in the jaw joint;
- chipped or broken teeth which may even be sensitive to hot and cold;
- flattened and worn tooth surfaces.
This is not a healthy action, as it can lead to excessive wear on the teeth and may cause permanent damage to the teeth and jaw joints.
Occlusal splints are made from hard moulded plastic that fit over either the upper or lower teeth. This helps to protect the teeth and jaw joints from the excessive forces created by clenching or grinding. Construction of an occlusal splint requires two visits. The first visit involves using a special digital camera to scan a mould of the tooth into the computer.
The digital mould is e-mailed to a dental laboratory where the occlusal splint is constructed. At a second visit, the constructed splint is inserted into the mouth and adjusted to make sure the way the teeth bite into the splint allows for maximum protection of the teeth and the jaw joint.