Certain pathologies such as teeth grinding, more commonly known as bruxism, cause progressive wear of the teeth and can compromise your oral health over time. Bruxism is the unconscious habit of clenching or grinding your teeth. Although it usually occurs at night, daytime bruxism also exists. It is important to break this bad dental habit as soon as possible.
However, this habit does not usually disappear overnight. An occlusal plate, which prevents the upper and lower teeth from touching each other, is an immediately effective dental treatment that will help you to restore good habits in the long term.
Clinique MFML’s experts explain the benefits of the occlusal plate, how to properly maintain it, how to obtain one and the mistakes to avoid.
What is an occlusal plate?
An occlusal plate is a transparent appliance placed in the mouth made of a hard, rigid material that prevents the teeth from clenching. It is about two millimeters thick and custom-made for each patient. In addition, its use must be personal and cannot be transferred.
There is no certainty as to the cause of bruxism. However, jaw deformities, also known as dental malocclusion, and crooked teeth are some of the oral pathologies that can be detected by your maxillofacial surgeon that may require orthognathic surgery.
If you think you may be suffering from bruxism, we recommend consulting your dentist. They will determine if the use of this type of prosthesis is appropriate for you and, if so, will make custom molds of your teeth in order to fabricate it.
Why use an occlusal plate?
Typically worn at night, the function of the occlusal plate is to relax the muscles and prevent them from contracting, which causes us to clench and grind our teeth.
In other words, the benefit of an occlusal plate is that it keeps the jawbones (upper and lower) in the right position and prevents them from exerting more force than they should.
Continuous use of the occlusal plate therefore provides the above-mentioned benefits: it prevents tooth wear and pain in the jaw, head, ears and neck.
Occlusal plate guidelines
Once you know the purpose of using it, it is helpful to consider a number of recommendations. This will ensure that the occlusal plate provides the desired benefits to the wearer and will last longer in good condition, up to 5 years if cared for properly.
However, at this point it is also important to note that, as with other treatments, such as orthodontics with braces, it takes time to get used to the occlusal plate. For the first few days, it can be uncomfortable or feel too tight.
In most cases, these discomforts begin to fade over time. If this is not the case, you should visit your dentist to test the plate, have it checked and, if necessary, adjusted.
The occlusal plate is generally used at night when you sleep. This is because bruxism tends to occur during this time. However, if your specialist recommends it, the occlusal plate can also be used during the day.
Occlusal plate cleaning and maintenance
Using the occlusal plate is very simple and so is cleaning it. The most important thing is to brush the device and wash it with soap and water after each use. In addition, it is good to soak it in water diluted with a denture cleaning tablet once a week.
This simple procedure is essential for keeping the occlusal plate in good condition. If you neglect to do this, it will start to smell bad and you will experience a bad taste in your mouth.
Where to get an occlusal plate
Although there are many options available today for people who need an occlusal plate, we recommend that you consult your dentist if you think you have bruxism.
Your dentist will be able to create a custom-made appliance for you. There are many ways to buy occlusal plates today, both online and in physical stores.
However, it is important to keep in mind that these plates, although much cheaper, have two major drawbacks.
The first is that they are not custom made, which is bad for comfort and effectiveness. The second is that they don’t last as long. In other words, they don’t last the five years that occlusal plates made in a dental clinic can last.
Mistakes to avoid with occlusal plates
Following on from the section on contraindications, you should also not use an appliance made for whitening, a removable retainer such as those placed at the end of orthodontic treatment or a mouthguard for athletes as an occlusal plate.
These devices are much thinner, made of soft or semi-rigid material and therefore do not produce the desired effects. In fact, they may even further promote the habit of clenching the jaw.
Trust the experts at Clinique MFML
If you suspect that you are suffering from this problem, we recommend consulting your dentist so that they can identify the source of your symptoms and prescribe an occlusal plate if necessary.