Thousands of people every year are prescribed biteplates by their dentists. There are two common scenarios that prompt a dentist to make this recommendation.
Scenario 1: Tooth Grinding
You went to your dentist for a routine appointment and you were told that there is evidence that you are grinding your teeth at night (sleep bruxism). Your dentist may in fact show you areas of tooth wear on your teeth. You have no jaw or tooth pain, which is good, but a biteplate is made to protect your teeth at night while you sleep. This biteplates may be made of hard acrylic, dual laminate materials with a soft inside and hard outer shell, or may be totally soft and pliable.
Since you have no symptoms of jaw or tooth pain, there is no need to do anything else. Your dentist should ask you to bring it with you when you go in for a routine tooth cleaning appointment. Overtime it may have to be remade due to wear and tear, or adjusted if new dental restorations have been placed.
Scenario 2: Jaw Pain, Stiffness, and more…
You are experiencing pain/tightness/stiffness in the jaw muscles, pain in the Temporomandibular Joints (TMJ’s), or clicking that is new or getting worse. Your symptoms may be worse in the morning as many people often wake up with symptoms of jaw pain, diminished jaw motion, and even a jaw that feels locked and out of place. Your dentist will in this situation commonly make a biteplate that can be modified over time as your symptoms change. It may have a flat biting surface or inclines to address your specific problem.
These adjustable biteplates need to be monitored as your condition improves, or if it is not helping to reduce symptoms. Just like an orthopedic splint for the knee, problems, modifications, or changes are required overtime as the situation dictates.
If your jaw problem was due to a specific trauma or injury (sports related/eating/accidental) which lead to a joint sprain, muscle strain, or joint inflammation, as healing occurs you will likely wear the appliance less until you don’t need it at all.
However, if your jaw pain, locked jaw, decreased motion, sore teeth, or headaches resulted from persistent and aggressive sleep bruxism , then long term use of the biteplate may be required. Periodic visits to the dentist will be required to determine when, and if the biteplate use can be reduced or eliminated. Regardless of the reasons that you needed a biteplate to begin with, please make sure your dentist monitors its use at least once a year.
Learn more about biteplates and oral appliances.
Dr. Donald Tanenbaum is a specialist with offices in New York City and Long Island, NY. He is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat facial pain associated with jaw problems, TMJ, referred pain, nerve pain, and migraines. Find out more at www.tanenbaumtmj.com.