By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert
What is Occlusal and Splint Therapy?
Habitual clenching or grinding of your teeth can cause a variety problems with your jaws and teeth. It can over work facial muscles and cause pain and can overstress your teeth. This can cause pain in periodontal ligaments and wear of tooth structure. In extreme cases, you can break or crack teeth by forceful and repetitive clenching and grinding. Clenching and grinding can also overstress and cause pain and damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Clenching and grinding can occur during the day or at night and most people are not aware of this habit. Problems come to light during the dental exam when we notice tooth wear or highly developed jaw muscles.
The purpose of splint therapy is to change the position of your jaw to a relaxed muscle position. In an ideal situation the teeth can be changed to fit together at the same position where the jaw is relaxed.
Do I need splint therapy?
A common reason for prescribing an occlusal splint is to protect the teeth from excessive wear. However, splints can also help reduce or eliminate headaches, cervical, neck and facial pain, or even earaches or ringing in the ears.
What can I expect from splint therapy?
Our patients have experienced dramatic changes due to splint therapy. Often, headaches disappear and muscle tensions go away. Chewing becomes easier and your jaw will probably stop making noises.
Tara J. said, “I now have less headaches, less jaw pain and it was beneficial. I would tell a friend to do the therapy!”
Splint therapy can involve the wearing of one splint or a sequence of splints and may include some of the following devices:
- This small device is used as the first step in diagnosing if functional disharmony is due to the joint or the muscles and is made right in our office.
- During splint therapy, an acrylic appliance is worn at all times to create the best possible function between the natural position of the jaw, muscles, and your teeth as they work with one another. The anterior deprogrammer, a partial splint, is used for muscle therapy.
- The TMJ splint covers all the teeth of one arch and better addresses joint issues. It is also worn 24/7.
Upon successful completion of splint therapy (once the muscles and jaw joints are stable), teeth may fit together differently. There are three common methods, sometimes used in conjunction with each other, to realign the teeth into a more comfortable position:
- Equilibration creates a solid bite by adjusting the alignment of the upper and lower teeth and by altering the chewing surfaces of some or all the teeth to remove interferences. This creates harmony among the jaw joints, muscles, and teeth as the joints and muscles are placed in a relaxed position and the teeth come together at the same time.
- Tooth movement is performed by an orthodontist, who understands jaw joint and muscle function.
- Full mouth restorations can be used to bring teeth perfectly together at the relaxed joint and muscle position.
Are occlusal and splint therapy right for you? There’s no need to suffer any longer, please give us a call today at 651-482-8412 to schedule a consultation. We can help tailor a program that’s right for you!