Do you need an occlusal splint?

November 10, 2014

Grinding your teeth at night? Waking up with headaches? Here are answers to questions you may have about occlusal splint therapy.

Q: Why would I need an occlusal splint, also known as a bite guard?
A: These plastic mouth guards are designed to project your teeth and relieve the muscle pain you may have from clenching or grinding your teeth at night. They're also used to relieve the wear and tear on your teeth from that kind of grinding, also known as Bruxism. Other reasons your dentist might suggest you get one include recent surgery, orthodontics, poor bite, and conditions such as Temporomandibular disorders.
Q: How does a splint work?
A: The splint is fitted to your mouth, keeping your teeth apart and preventing your upper jaw from connecting directly with your lower jaw. This can help your lower jaw return to a normal hinged position. It also helps your jaw to relax and avoid any muscle spasms while protecting the teeth. How often you wear the splint depends on what your dentist advises. Sometimes you need to wear it all the time unless you’re eating. Other times, you may only need to wear it at night.
Q: What kinds of occlusal splints are there?
A: There are two types. A full arch splint — this one fits on your upper or lower jaw, covering all the teeth on the arch. NTI-tss splints are smaller and may only fit in the front of your mouth. These aren't required to be worn all the time.
Q: How do I get a splint?
A: There are many splints available in the dental aisle of your local pharmacy these days —however they tend to be one-size-fits-all. At best they will be uncomfortable and at worst, they may make your condition even more severe. You tend to get what you pay for.

The better option is getting fitted for one at your dentist’s office if they recommend you need one. You may need one or two fittings to get it to fit right and it may take a week or two before you’re comfortable wearing it regularly.
Q: Do I need to brush or clean the splint every day?
A: It’s recommended you do. After you brush and floss your own teeth, it’s best if you brush and rinse your splint as well to avoid passing germs to your teeth via the splint. You can also soak it once a week in a denture cleanser. It’s also a good idea to store it in a mouth guard container to keep it protected and clean.

Do you need an occlusal splint?
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