An occlusal splint is a device that is also commonly referred to as a nightguard. It resembles a mouthguard and is worn at night to prevent wear of the teeth that typically occurs as a result of grinding.
Occlusal splints can also assist in reducing pain associated with the temporomandibular (jaw) joint and surrounding muscles in patients who clench their teeth and jaws. There are a few variations of occlusal splints available and it will depend on the individual as to what your dentist recommends for you. The most common type of occlusal splint is known as a rigid splint and is fabricated from hard acrylic (plastic). This type of occlusal splint may be worn over either the upper or lower teeth throughout the night. It works by absorbing the forces from clenching and grinding, which in turn, reduces tooth tissue wear and reduces the pressure placed on muscles in and around the mouth and temporomandibular joint.
To have an occlusal splint made, your dentist will take impressions (moulds) of your teeth. They are sent to a dental laboratory for fabrication. Your dentist will fit your splint for you and make any adjustments to it if required.