Splints are usually the first stage of treatment for TMJ disorders. Wearing a splint helps your dentist find your optimal bite, a process that usually takes at least 3 months. Splints can also be used as a long-term treatment to make your best bite permanent.
There are many different types of splints available today. So, which option is right for you?
Here are 5 of the most common splints, and what they’re best for.
5 Common Types of TMJ Splints
1. “Over the counter" guard - This is the most economical option that protects your teeth from grinding. However, it is also the least comfortable option for sleep.
2. Essix - Essix retainers are clear retainers that can also help protect your teeth from mild TMJ symptoms. Many patients choose these retainers because they are economical, thin, comfortable, and lightweight.
However, because of their thinness, Essix retainers are not ideal for patients with severe grinding problems. Your dentist may recommend a different option if you experience severe grinding, or if your Essix retainer wears out quickly.
Essix retainers are not designed to fix TMJ pain or dysfunction. If these symptoms persist, ask your dentist about another treatment option.
3. Custom flat plane bite splint/night guard - These splints and guards are specially designed to protect your teeth from clenching and grinding. Since they're thicker than Essix retainers, your dentist may recommend this option if you experience serious clenching or grinding problems.
The tight fit of these splints and guards mean that they are more comfortable than over-the-counter guards, and can also act as retainers. They may or may not help with pain and dysfunction.
4. Removable Neuromuscular Orthotic - These neuromuscularly balanced, anatomically exact orthotics are created using the latest in dental technology. They are designed to eliminate clenching and grinding, as well as TMJ pain and dysfuction.
These orthotics are removable, but are worn most of the time. Depending on your preference, you can choose to wear them all day including eating, or all night and all day with the exception of eating.
*5. Neuromuscular Mandibular Advancement Device for Sleep Apnea/ Snoring - Improve sleep apnea and snoring comfortably. These devices use the latest in dental technology to find a neuromuscularly balanced position for your jaw during sleep.
*Only used for patients with sleep apnea.
What Happens Next?
If you are a TMJ patient, you should expect to wear a splint for at least 3 months as your dentist finds your ideal bite. This is the first stage of TMJ treatment.
During the second stage of treatment, your dentist will make your ideal bite permanent. Depending on your situation, the second phase of treatment may include another removable orthotic, orthodontics, or (in severe cases) an arch or full mouth reconstruction.
TMJ disorders can cause serious pain and damage to your jaw area.
By treating your TMJ disorder, you can:
- Eliminate daily headaches.
- Stop jaw pain.
- Prevent grinding.
- Prevent tooth damage.
- Repair broken teeth.
- Change your appearance.
- Improve breathing.
- Smile again!