Sometimes, an oral splint is used to help with directing the movement of the jaw before moving on to the second phase of treatment - a TMJ procedure or reconstructive surgery.
What Is an Oral Splint?
An oral splint, also called an occlusal splint, is an orthotic device that is a special type of mouth guard. The splint can be made for people who have TMJ, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction, problems with grinding or clenching their teeth (bruxism), or who plan to undergo a full mouth reconstruction. The splint is personalized for use, based on the detail of rendered models on an instrument, known as an articulator. An articulator simulates the movement of the jaw. Made of an acrylic resin, the splint guides the jaw as it moves side to side or back and forth. The device protects the teeth from harmful jaw movements and supports the joint muscles used for chewing. One of the innovations made to the device includes a feature that repositions the lower jaw, allowing for more airflow for patients diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Types of Oral Splints for TMJ Treatment
Most often, an oral splint is used to reposition the jaw in situations where patients are diagnosed with TMJ. Several types of splints are featured, depending on the severity of the condition. For example, an over-the-counter splint is an economical splint that keeps the patient from grinding and clenching their teeth. An Essix retainer is clear and protects the teeth from the mild symptoms of TMJ. A custom flat plane bite splint is designed for more serious grinding problems. You can also choose a neuromuscular orthotic that can be removed. This splint is used to treat both bruxism and TMJ dysfunction. A neuromuscular mandibular advanced splint uses the latest in technology to balance the jaw as you sleep. This particular splint is only used for sleep apnea patients.
If you have TMJ, you will wear an oral splint, on average, about 3 months. During the second treatment stage, you may undergo a full-mouth reconstruction or similar adjustment to the jawbone. To learn more about occlusal or oral splints, give us a call today. Schedule an appointment for a consultation and exam if you have problems with bruxism or TMJ.
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