Crunching noises should only happen in your mouth when you're eating a salad (ok Cheetos), not in your sleep. Grinding and clenching at night is bad for your teeth and your REM cycle. Prevent cracking, unnecessary wear, and jaw discomfort by investing in a bite splint.
Bite splints are a single piece of acrylic molded in a horseshoe shape to fit your upper or lower teeth. When worn at night, bite splints can prevent grinding and clenching–a bad habit that Dr. James Brennan, DDS, says is becoming more common.
"Generally, people tend to be living busier lifestyles, and we see a lot of people exhibit (grinding)," he says. "The exact cause is not always known, although typically the reason is that when people go to sleep, they're still probably thinking through their day a little bit, and thinking through the next day. Their muscles are tight, and there are a lot of people who get their stress out through clenching their teeth."
Signs of night-time grinding and clenching are cracking or worn teeth, sometimes to the point of teeth breaking off or becoming flattened. These problems are usually identified during a dental exam, but take preventative measures, Dr. Brennan says, and get a bite splint.
While athletic-type mouth guards can be purchased and used to prevent grinding and clenching, Dr. Brennan recommends having a dentist fit a bite splint specific to each mouth.
"If it doesn't fit properly, it could cause some minor tooth movement. The more important thing is if the lower teeth don't fit into the upper splint evenly, it could lead to worse symptoms like joint pain and muscle soreness," he says.
Clean your bite splint daily with a tooth brush and tooth paste and keep it in a protected case away from pets. Contact your dentist for more information.
Written by: Erika Fifelski was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys cooking, sewing, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses. She has a bite splint.