Teeth clenching and grinding, or bruxism, can cause serious damage to teeth. When you clench your teeth, your jaw exerts a large amount of force to hold the upper and lower teeth together. This can wear away the teeth, leading to decay, chipped fillings, and even tooth loss.
Teeth clenching is also often responsible for migraines, an achy jaw, stiff neck, and morning headaches. When the muscles in the jaw contract, the force generated causes pain in surrounding tissues, joints, and muscles.
Bruxism is most often treated with a night guard. A night guard protects teeth from the effects of grinding but does not actually stop the behavior. This can protect teeth from wear and decay, but it might not eliminate jaw pain and migraines.
Reducing the intensity of the clenching can reduce or eliminate the pain. An NTI appliance is a type of mouth guard that uses a tension suppression system to stop the clenching action.
The NTI appliance is a bite guard. It takes advantage of the “nociceptive trigeminal inhibitory” reflex, which makes you open your mouth after biting down too hard on something with your front teeth. The appliance consists of an acrylic guard worn over your upper or lower front teeth while sleeping. If you begin to clench your teeth, you will bite down on the guard, which will activate the reflex and prevent clenching.
An NTI appliance is specially fitted by a dentist, but impressions and molds of the teeth are not required. It can be fitted in a dentist’s office in less than 30 minutes. It snaps into place and can only be removed by using your hands. The NTI appliance has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and used by thousands of patients around the world.
An NTI appliance can suppress the clenching reflex in a matter of days or weeks. Headaches, neck pain, and jaw pain usually begin to resolve soon after starting to use the device. It can reduce your need for pain medication and make you more comfortable throughout the day.