A dental splint is a device that protects teeth and the tissues that support them from harm caused by grinding or clenching.
Splints are referred to by various names, including intraoral appliance, bruxism splint, stabilization appliance, interocclusal appliance, occlusal appliance, repositioning splint, mouth guard, sleep guard, and others.
They’re commonly worn during nighttime, though some patients may be required to use them during the daytime if they’re experiencing severe pain. Most times, you may be subject to a dental splint if you experience some of the probable causes listed below, such as bruxism and Temporomandibular Joint issues (TMJD).
Common Causes of Dental Splints
Bruxism is a common cause of the need for dental splints. It is the term that refers to constant teeth grinding while awake or asleep. In fact, Bruxism is claimed to afflict 20% of people while awake and 8% of adults while sleeping. The arrangement of teeth in the mouth, known as occlusion, is frequently wrongly considered to cause bruxism. When it comes to sleep bruxism, stress is a significant factor-both during the day and at night. Sleep bruxism is when the jaw muscles open and close during REM sleep before falling into a deep sleep characterized by fast eye movement (REM sleep).
While mild bruxism does not need any treatment, chronic teeth clenching and grinding can overuse the muscles that govern the lower jaw, resulting in pain. The stress on the joint can also produce changes within the joint, resulting in pain and limited mouth opening.
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint)
TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues can develop due to teeth grinding and clenching (TMDs). TMDs are a set of disorders affecting the muscles that govern the lower jaw and the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and supporting tissues. For patients with TMDs, behavioural intervention is beneficial. It entails lowering stress levels and making the patient aware of periods throughout the day when they may be unintentionally clenching or grinding their teeth, such as when studying or dealing with stress at work.
Your dentist may recommend a nightguard if your teeth show damage consistent with nighttime clenching or grinding. You may sleep well knowing that those night guards will not cause damage to your teeth because they separate your upper and lower teeth while you sleep.
If you’re experiencing any of these dental issues, then you may be recommended to use dental splints to protect your teeth from further injuries.
Types of Splints
Dental patients have several splint options. Splint selection is based on various factors, including patient needs, clinician preferences, and the desired outcome. Traditional flat-plane occlusal splints, which fit over the maxillary or mandibular arch, are the most commonly prescribed dental splints. The versatility of this splint makes it a popular choice for a variety of medical conditions.
If you have a TMD, your professional Perth dentist may recommend a night guard or an occlusal splint to treat it. Treatment options for TMD include:
- A soft diet.
- Better sleep.
- Stress reduction.
- Avoid jaw motions like yawning.
- Prescriptions for muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory drugs
- Applying warm packs to the joint, and in some instances.
You may prescribe some patients a “stabilization” kind of occlusal splint. The upper jaw is protected with a thin acrylic guard that might be rigid or soft.
Dental & Occlusal Splint Final Thoughts
Dental splints distribute the stresses generated by bruxism equally across the upper and lower teeth, minimizing muscular tension and joint overload. These methods do not cure bruxism, and patients may continue to clench and grind their teeth at night even after trying all of the above. Call Edental Perth for additional information, and our friendly team will be able to assist.