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Occlusal splint or night guard: what are they and what are they for?

occlusal splints

Occlusal splints or night guards are dental devices, more commonly known as bites, useful for protecting teeth from the consequences of night bruxism.

Night bruxism

Nocturnal bruxism is a parafunction of the chewing apparatus, it is in fact an unconscious movement that has no specific purpose.

deep bite milan dentist

In fact, many patients are often unaware of having bruxism problems: involuntary teeth grinding occurs at night and can have variable duration and intensity. During sleep it is a phenomenon that can be repeated several times and for shorter or longer times.

There is no specific cause at the origin of this pathology, however there are multiple variables that can affect the intensity of the phenomenon:

  • family predisposition;
  • malocclusion;
  • psychological condition: emotional tension, stress, aggression.

Night bruxism is considered a psychopathology and is a very common phenomenon in both adult and pediatric age.

The consequences of bruxism

Those who suffer from high intensity night bruxism usually experience recognizable symptoms upon awakening: pain in the temporomandibular muscles, back pain and frequent headaches.

However, bruxism is not always of high intensity, it can be mild but continuous and it may not have such obvious symptoms.

oxidative stress

The main consequence of bruxism, however, is, in both cases, the wear of the enamel.

Patients who do not schedule regular check-ups with the dentist may not notice the progressive wear of the enamel. A condition that, in the long term, could lead to direct exposure of the dentin up to the pulp chamber.

Teeth with abraded enamel are fragile teeth, particularly exposed to the most common pathologies, first of all dental caries.

Furthermore, nocturnal bruxism also puts conservative restorations at serious risk following the devitalization of one or more teeth.

Occlusal splint to protect the teeth

Protecting the teeth from the wear of the enamel due to bruxism therefore allows to limit the damage. Occlusal splints or night guards are used to prevent teeth grinding from consuming dental enamel in the long run and exposing the tooth to the dangers of other pathologies.

occlusal splints night guard milano

Occlusal splints are bites very similar to those of orthodontic therapies. These are transparent devices, made of pneumatic material about 2 mm thick, which adapt to the patient’s dental arch and must only be applied during the night.

There are standard occlusal splints on the market, which can also be purchased in pharmacies, but they are not always suitable for solving the problem. A personalized night guard, made by the dentist on the basis of the jaw and jaw impression, is the only way to guarantee the correct protection of the teeth.

Custom made occlusal splints have in fact the right adhesion to the teeth and allow to protect the surface of the enamel in every point.

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