Dental hygienists see the effects that clenching and grinding has on the oral cavity every day. There is not a single workday where I don’t have at least one patient that has been affected.
When I started my dental hygiene training, I learned about all the radiating effects bruxing can have on the whole body. The only way to prevent this damage is to prevent the patient from clenching and grinding, which often occur during times of stress, and more often during sleep.
After much research and discussions with professors and dentists, the consensus was that a bite guard was usually the best solution.
There are many different variations of bite guards but almost all of them are shaped like a horseshoe and cover all of the teeth in that arch. This does protect the patient's teeth from the damage they would cause without a barrier, but the horseshoe is not the best solution.
I have had a lot of patients try the traditional route, with over- the-counter and professionally made bite guards. Those patients then express their disappointments: most commonly they can't sleep with it in, they grind through it, they wake up with more jaw pain than before, they forget to wear it for a few nights and when they try to wear it again it no longer fits.
We've seen the boil and bite over-the-counter models create more problems than solutions.
Like much of the population, I suffered from bruxism. I would have occasional jaw clicking with no pain or consistency, so I ignored it as an anomaly. Anything I tried would help for a little while but then all the symptoms would come back.
I had a few custom horseshoe bite guards made, including the one I made for myself in a dental lab, but I found them uncomfortable and hard to sleep in.
Having read the abundant research on the NTI® device, I understood this succeeded with some patients, but NTI has its own drawbacks; particularly its rigidity and ability to move and even sometimes chip teeth inadvertently. Once the “gold standard”, NTI generally requires multiple appointments and a laboratory fee that not all patients can afford.
When I came to work at my current employer, I was introduced to GrindRelief, which is based on the same principle as the NTI.
It had so many advantages over the NTI and horseshoes, even before I experienced its benefits as a patient. It cuts out the patients' least favorite part: having alginate impressions made, which speeds the process and greatly increases the patient's comfort. I was able to make mine in 5 minutes from start to finish. It can be re-molded, if necessary, over time, to grow with the patient.
The GrindRelief design, with the unique Central Power Bar, disperses/dissipates the potentially harmful energy on both arches simultaneously. Here in Michigan, once the doctor confirms the diagnosis, an auxiliary usually fits the appliance, to send home with the patient.
I personally find the GrindRelief easy to sleep in and comfortable, and I did feel more relief than with the traditional horseshoe. Comfortable and discreet, I was able to talk to my husband before going to bed without an embarrassing and obvious lisp. Later he told me he had no idea I was wearing a bite guard.
However, like many people I treat, I have a slightly open bite, so occasionally the doctor has us add a maxillary splint. It is thinner (0.02) and more comfortable than the horseshoe. I don't bite down harder or grind the splint because the GrindRelief was still helping my muscles and jaw close and relax correctly.
I believe in this product, not only because of the tremendous results I have seen with my patients, but also with what I have experienced first-hand. I have finally been able to truly help my patients get and keep relief.