Sunday, May 22, 2011

DAY 231 - No I’m Not a Dentist: but what’s the story with bite splints?

Really ... I’m not a dentist. I’m a chiropractor. But more importantly, my mother taught me, by example, to use my brain, and to ask questions about everything.

I hadn’t been in practice long when I started treating patients of all ages with jaw grinding (technically bruxism), and jaw pain. All of these patients had been treated by dentists and had been provided with an occlusal splint (also called a bite splint, bite plane, or night guard), as a complete treatment. When I inquired as to the cause of the grinding, not one had an answer, nor recalled discussing causation with their dentist.

If a patient is grinding or clenching, I think it is a great idea to temporarily put something between the teeth to try to minimize the self-inflicted damage. Having bought some time with a splint, one would hope to take that time and figure out what was causing the grinding to begin with.

When I first started thinking about bruxism 28 years ago, I imagined humans gnashing their teeth. Seemed quite obvious that this harsh clenching would only occur under circumstances of profound provocation. Didn’t seem like one would need to be a dentist to appreciate that something serious must be going on to cause one to destroy his own teeth.

In every case that I treated, the patients, or the parents of the young patients, had no idea what was causing the grinding. So I began looking at the most profound provoker of human physiology that I knew of, one that most individuals have no awareness of; food allergies. While it would be foolish to say that food allergies are the cause of bruxism, I can tell you that some patients experience marked improvement with temporary removal of offending foods from their diet. I can also tell you that in hundreds of patients I have seen decreased head, jaw and neck pain associated with removal of food allergens.

On Wikipedia’s occlusal splint page it is stated that “People prone to nocturnal bruxism, or nighttime clenching, should routinely wear occlusal splints at night.” Won’t it be delightful, and rational, when we see on this same page an encouragement to look into the cause of grinding?

I would love to hear reports from you bruxers. I would also be interested in doing collaborative research on bruxism with a dentist in the Ventura, California area.


  1. Thanks so much for this, Kris. My dentist wants to fit me with a night guard. I'll be taking a second look at this now.

  2. Barbara,
    You are so welcome!
    I would love to hear what your dentist has to say.