A bite splint is a removable appliance, or orthotic device, that has a number of uses. It can be used both as a diagnostic tool and for therapeutic treatment. It allows both the doctor and the patient an opportunity to learn what is causing the symptoms, relieve discomfort, and helps decide what, if anything should be done next.
- By separating the teeth and properly aligning the jaw joints, the splint can decrease the trauma done by clenching and grinding (bruxism) and as a result, often relieve the ensuing pain and dysfunction.
- With precise adjustment, we can simulate your joint based anatomically preferred bite in the acrylic of the splint. We can then determine what influence the teeth contacts have on the pain and dysfunction of the joints, disc, muscles and sometimes the teeth themselves. This information is used to confirm and refine the diagnosis for the patient. Usually we are able to learn what we need to know within the first 30 days of splint therapy.
- Once the best position of the TM joint (jaw joint) is established, a determination of proper and appropriate further treatment can be made. This could include reshaping the tops of the teeth to attain harmony between the tooth to tooth contacts and jaw position (equilibration). Additional treatment could include orthodontic treatment, surgery to reposition the teeth and jaws, restoring the teeth to establish a more stable bite and/or continued bite splint therapy.
- Long-term splint wear may be indicated and required for people who clench and grind to minimize future trauma and damage to their masticatory system. At the very least they can protect both your natural teeth and restored teeth from chipping, breaking and wear. There are also certain medical conditions and medications that trigger grinding &/or clenching that would necessitate long-term splint use.
The plastic in the appliance itself costs very little, what you are paying for is the considerable time, experience, care, skill and judgment necessary to obtain a diagnosis. One significant advantage of using a splint is that it is completely reversible-just remove the splint and you are back to square one! Most people who have worn a splint, though, would not consider giving up the improvement in the level of comfort that they have achieved.