Grinding your teeth at night (also known as bruxism) is very common, and so is clenching your teeth at night. It seems to be a mostly subconcious behaviour, and the cause is not fully understood. It does seem that this often gets worse during periods of stress.
The problem is when signs and symptoms appear. This can include tooth wear, fractures, pain, limited movement of the jaw joint, migraines or headaches. The muscles involved in moving the jaw can also become tender.
This can, in turn, affect the overall quality of your sleep, leading to chronic sleep deprivation.
Not all cases need to be treated, but if you are concerned this may be affecting you, please get in touch with us and we can discuss it further.
Even though there are many ways to manage bruxism/clenching, the most common treatment is an occlusal splint (dental appliances).
Occlusal splints are generally designed to act as a mechanical separation of the teeth and may be as simple as a soft mouthguard.
Generally one is worn over the lower teeth (or upper) and is made out of soft acrylic. Designed to be comfortable in your mouth as you will need to sleep while wearing the appliance.
If you find the acrylic is too soft then we generally move to make splints out of harder acrylic. There is a transitional period while you get used to wearing this, and you will need review appointments to monitor the success of the appliance.
SCi - Sleep Clench Inhibitor is the most clinically effective FDA-approved treatment for TMD, bruxism, and medically diagnosed migraines.
The SCi reduces abnormal or parafunctional intensity of the temporalis muscles, masseters muscles and to a degree, the lateral pterygoids (these are the tiny muscles at your jaw joints that open your jaw). This eliminates posterior and canine teeth contact, which reduces the temporalis muscle from clenching.
Essentially this means that your back teeth and your canines are kept out of contact while you are wearing the appliance. This reduces the muscle activity which is driving the clenching/bruxism. In turn, this reduces signs and symptoms as stated above.