Treatment of occlusal-related disorders is often a challenge for both the dentist and the patient. These disorders are often difficult to diagnose, as the presenting symptoms can be variable. Occlusal splint design and function can be considered an example of the art and science of dentistry. Once the cause of occlusal-related disorders is identified, this reversible, noninvasive therapy provides both diagnostic information and relief without the problems that often accompany other approaches to care, ie, surgery and extended drug therapy.
What is an Occlusal Splint?
An occlusal splint or orthotic device is a specially designed mouth guard for people who grind their teeth, have a history of pain and dysfunction associated with their bite or temporomandibular joints (TMJ), or have completed a full mouth reconstruction. An occlusal splint is custom-made using detailed study models on an instrument called an articulator that simulates the movement of the jaws. The occlusal splint is made from a processed acrylic resin and is designed to guide the jaw as it moves side-to-side and front-to-back.
This precise custom orthotic device not only protects the teeth from harmful habits, but it supports the TMJ and the muscles that are used in chewing.
The more sophisticated mouth guard designed for a person with a specific dental problem is usually called an occlusal splint or orthotic device
A recent innovation in occlusal splints/orthotic devices includes a specific modification designed to reposition the lower jaw allowing improved airflow while the patient is sleeping to aid in the treatment of sleep apnea.
WHAT TYPES OF SPLINTS ARE AVAILABLE?
The types of splints currently employed in occlusal splint therapy include permissive, nonpermissive, hydrostatic, and soft rubber (silicone) splints. The permissive splints allow the teeth to glide unimpeded over the biting or contact surface. These include bite planes (anterior deprogrammer, Lucia jig, anterior jig) and stabilization splints (Tanner, centric relation, flat plane, and superior repositioning).
How do splint work?
Splints provide diagnostic information, allow muscles in spasm to relax, protect the teeth and jaws from the adverse effects of bruxism, and normalize periodontal ligament proprioception. These devices can also allow repositioning of the condyles and jaws into centric relation