A dental splint is an orthodontic device that can be used to stabilize loose teeth or protect the teeth from damage in patients who experience bruxism or teeth grinding, or patients with temporomandibular joint disorders also known as TMJ. Splints are sometimes used to treat patients with sleep apnea or snoring problems.
Splints are usually made of hard acrylic and fit over the upper or lower teeth. Splints are fitted by a dentist to ensure that the splint conforms to the individual patient's teeth. Some dentists may create the splints within their office, while others may send them to a laboratory to be made.
Dental Splint Treatment
Depending on the individual patient, dental splints may be used for temporary stabilization of loose teeth, or to address ongoing issues.
To treat loose teeth, dental splinting involves joining teeth together. The splint stabilizes teeth so that they are less likely to move, which can weaken the teeth and cause them to fall out.
TMJ and Bruxism
For people with TMJ and bruxism, a splint is used to protect the teeth from damage at night. The splint is worn like a mouth guard fitted over the top or bottom teeth. With the use of a splint, the patients will grind down on the splint, rather than the teeth, and strain on the teeth and jaw can be reduced.
Splints can be worn for a designated treatment period or while sleeping for long-term care of snoring and sleep apnea.
The dentist will determine a customized treatment plan for each patient's individual condition. It is important that dental splints are cleaned and cared for properly to maximize the success of treatment and reduce the risk of complications.