Your dentist may recommend occlusal splint therapy if you suffer from any of these:
- Excessive grinding and clenching on teeth (Bruxism)
- Headache and chronic neck pain
- Temporomandibular joint pain
- Frequent fractured fillings, crowns
- Cracked tooth
In a comfortable bite position, there is harmony between where the muscles that move the jaw act to seat the head of your jaw joints. Your habitual bite position guides your joint into that identical position every time.
Excessive grinding and other external factors for example, acid erosion from food or acid reflux, result in teeth wear and at times worn dentures may alter your bite position.
When the position of your jaw joints guided by your bite position is different from where your chewing muscles wants to seat it, it leads to hyperactivity and subsequent pain (lactic acid build-up) in the muscles that move the jaw. This can result in worn and damaged teeth, fractured restorations and subsequently internal damage to the jaw joints. This condition is also known as Temporo-mandibular Disorder or Myofascial Pain Dysfunction.
Other common symptoms are headaches, neck and shoulder pain, facial pain, clicking or grating joints, hearing dullness, vertigo (loss of balance), or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and even migraines may result.
Your dentist may recommend occlusal splint therapy.
What is an Occlusal Splint?
An Occlusal splint (also called a night guard), is a custom-fitted hard acrylic appliance, that fits over the upper or lower teeth. It is designed to protect natural teeth, fillings, crowns and implants from excessive wear and cracks from damaging bruxism habit and relieve muscle tension and painful joint symptoms.
The splint is designed to separate the teeth, so that your bite/teeth no longer guide the muscles in positioning your jaw joints. These muscles are free to seat your jaw joints in the most comfortable/harmonious position, which usually results in a great reduction in the pain and other signs and symptoms of TMD and protect your dentition.
What is involved in occlusal splint therapy? Your initial appointment will involve taking impressions (a mould) of your teeth. Your bite position will also be recorded. These will be sent to to our laboratory to construct the occlusal splint. Once ready, your splint will be fitted, carefully calibrated to your bite and reviewed with further appointments thereafter. Depending on the severity of your symptoms of temporo-mandibular disorder, these occlusal adjustment may take time and you may need to return regularly to have your splint adjusted.
How often do I need to wear the splint? It should be worn as directed, usually just at night, but some patients may need to also use it during the day if in acute pain. Do not use when eating.
What is the ongoing care required?
- Clean your splint after use by gentle brushing with toothbrush and rinsing in cold water. Do not use hot water or harsh cleaning detergent or bleach.
- Soak the splint in denture cleansing tablets weekly to remove plaque/bacterial build up, that may cause staining and odour.
- Once the initial adjustments are completed, your splint will still need to be checked and possibly adjusted from time to time. Usually, this can be done as part of your regular check-up appointment.
- Please bring your splint to all dental appointments, as any future dental treatment eg fillings or crowns may require adjustment of the splint.