What Are Dental Splints?
Have you ever woken up with a sore jaw or a headache? It might be due to grinding of the teeth at night, a common issue many of us face without even knowing. But fear not because there’s a simple solution that your Perth Dentist might recommend to protect your teeth and help maintain your oral health: dental splints.
A dental splint is like a guardian that can protect teeth against chronic teeth grinding and clenching.
A dental splint acts as a protective layer, protecting teeth from the wear and tear of teeth grinding or clenching. Think of it as a helmet or a seatbelt for your smile – it safeguards your pearly whites and supporting structures from damage.
Whether it’s an occlusal splint that you wear at night to protect teeth from the damage caused by sleep bruxism or another kind designed to stabilise your jaw and teeth, these handy devices are all about keeping your mouth healthy. Plus, they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution; each splint serves a different purpose, and your dentist will find the one that’s just right for you.
So, if you want to protect your teeth and keep that jaw in check, let’s dive into the world of dental splints. Our patients at Acts Dental have worn these little lifesavers and seen great benefits – and you could too!
The Role of Dental Splints in Oral Health
Dental splints play a crucial role in safeguarding your oral health. Just like we use supports to heal broken bones, splints help maintain the well-being of your mouth. These nifty devices are custom-made to fit snugly over all of the upper or lower teeth, offering protection and stability where it’s most needed. Whether it’s to shield against teeth clenching and grinding or keeping your teeth in place, dental splints are a key player in your dental health team.
Preventing Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Many people unknowingly grind their teeth during sleep, leading to unwanted issues like headaches, tooth damage, and jaw soreness. A night guard is a type of removable dental appliance specifically designed to halt this habit.
By creating a barrier between your teeth, it takes the hit so your teeth don’t have to. It not only protects your teeth but also helps in reducing the strain on your jaw muscles, making sure you wake up feeling refreshed and without any unpleasant pain.
Pediatric dentists may recommend dental splints for children who grind their teeth. Custom-fitted to each child, these splints provide essential protection against the wear and damage caused by bruxism, ensuring the healthy development of young smiles.
Stabilising Loose Teeth and Periodontal Support
For those who have loose teeth, either from injury or periodontal issues, dental splints act like a splint for a sprained ankle. They help stabilise and secure your teeth, almost like giving them a hug so they can stay put. This support allows the muscles in your mouth to reduce pressure on any tooth, helping your teeth and gums recover and regain their strength.
Assisting in TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorders Treatment
TMJ disorders can be quite bothersome, with symptoms like jaw pain and neck pain. Splints are designed to alleviate discomfort in the jaw joint and correct misalignments. They gently guide your jaw into a more natural position, which can provide a huge relief from the stress and pain associated with TMJ disorder. By wearing a splint, patients can experience improved jaw function and significantly decreased discomfort during daily activities.
Types of Dental Splints and Their Uses
A dental splint can come in various shapes and forms, each serving a unique purpose. Just like shoes are designed for different activities, a dental splint is tailored to address specific issues related to our teeth and jaws. Whether it’s to give strength to weakened teeth or to prevent nighttime teeth troubles, there’s a splint for every need.
Fixed Splints: Strengthening Teeth Together
Fixed splints are the bodyguards of the dental world. They work by binding teeth together, giving them strength in numbers. This technique is beneficial when teeth have been through trauma or disease.
By holding them in place, fixed splints ensure that your teeth stay put, aiding in healing and preventing further damage. Why would your dentist recommend getting a fixed splint? If suggested, it’s likely because they believe it’s the best option for your teeth to recover and become strong again.
Removable Splints: Flexibility for Your Lifestyle
Then, there are removable splints, the convenient cousins of the fixed variety. These dental splints can be taken out and put back in as needed, allowing you to wear them at the most beneficial times, like while sleeping or during stressful activities that might cause you to clench and grind. They’re a great choice if you need help with your jaw movement but also value flexibility.
Interocclusal Splints (Bite Splints or Bite Planes): Easing Your Bite
Interocclusal splints, also known as a bite splints, focus on creating harmony between your lower or upper arches. If your bite is off, these splints come to the rescue, helping to adjust how your teeth come together. They’re beneficial for those who need a little help in fine-tuning their jaw movement and want to prevent any undue strain on their jaw joints.
Occlusal Splints: Specifically for Teeth Grinders
For our night time teeth grinders, the occlusal splint is a true friend. Worn mostly during sleep, occlusal splints are designed to create a protective barrier between your teeth. Wearing occlusal splints not only helps in managing sleep bruxism but also aids in relaxing the muscles in your jaw. The occlusal splint is like a cushion that absorbs the pressure from clenching or grinding, saving your teeth from being worn down.
Night Guards: Combating Night time Teeth Grinding
Speaking of night time, a night guard is the go-to for battling sleep bruxism. A night guard is a specialised occlusal splint that cushions your teeth while you grind your teeth at night. They can be bought over-the-counter or custom-fitted by your dental professional. While over-the-counter options are more accessible, custom-fitted night guards are tailored to your teeth, providing superior comfort and protection.
(Night guards are a type of occlusal splint primarily used for sleep bruxism.)
The Making of Dental Splints: Materials and Process
In a dental lab, technicians select high-quality, durable materials that can withstand the daily pressures of wear. These materials are chosen to be kind to your mouth but tough on the job. They need to be comfortable for patients to wear over extended periods, often hugging both the upper and lower arches of teeth. The materials can range from hard acrylics to soft, flexible plastics, each serving a different protective function.
The Step-by-Step Process of Creating a Custom Dental Splint
Consultation: It all starts with a visit to your South Perth Dentist. They’ll assess your dental needs, whether it’s protecting against grinding or stabilising your teeth, and decide if a dental splint is right for you.
Moulding: Next, an impression of your upper and lower arches is taken. This mould is like a map for the lab, showing them the exact contours of your mouth.
Crafting in the Lab: The impression travels to the dental lab, where the real magic happens. Here, technicians use the mould to shape your dental splint, ensuring it fits comfortably and meets the specific requirements set out by your dentist.
Fitting Appointment: Once the dental splint is ready, you’ll have follow-up appointments. During this visit, your dentist will check the fit against your lower and upper teeth and make any necessary adjustments. The goal is a splint that’s so comfortable you hardly know it’s there, seamlessly fitting both your lower and upper teeth.
Final Adjustments: It’s normal to need a tweak here or there. Your dentist will fine-tune your dental splint, ensuring you can talk and breathe easily and, most importantly, that it does its job protecting your teeth.
Wearing Your Splint: You’ll be given instructions on how to wear and care for your dental splint. It might feel a bit odd at first, but in no time, it’ll just be another part of your daily routine.
Life with a Dental Splint: What to Expect
Embracing a new splint is like starting any new habit—it takes a little time to adjust. But with the right approach, your dental splint will soon feel like a natural part of your life. Here’s what you can expect and some tips to make the transition smoother.
How to Properly Wear and Care for Dental Splints: First things first: knowing how to best care for your splint is crucial. Your dentist will guide you on how to insert and remove it without bending or damaging it. It’s essential to clean your splint regularly, following the cleaning instructions provided by your dentist to ensure your oral health doesn’t take a backseat.
Adjusting to the Feel of the Splint in Your Daily Routine: It might feel tight initially, especially around the front teeth, but this sensation should ease with time. If the tightness continues or if you experience pain, it’s important to revisit your dentist. They can adjust the fit to make sure it’s just right. Remember, a well-fitting splint shouldn’t cause discomfort.
Your Frequently Asked Questions Answered
Why did my dentist recommend a dental splint?
Your dentist may recommend a splint as a treatment option to alleviate symptoms of TMJ disorders, manage stress on the jaw, or address bruxism, which involves grinding and clenching the teeth.
Are there different types of splints for the upper and lower teeth?
There are splints designed specifically for the upper jaw and others for the lower jaw, depending on the patient’s needs and the supporting structures that require stabilisations.
How do I know if I need a splint for TMJ disorders?
If you’re experiencing jaw pain, difficulty moving your jaw, or hearing clicking sounds, these could be signs of a TMJ disorder. Patients with these symptoms should consult their dentist to determine if a splint can help.
What should I do if my splint is causing pain or discomfort?
If your splint causes pain or discomfort, it may need an adjustment. Contact your dentist for an evaluation to ensure the splint fits correctly and isn’t putting undue pressure on your jaw.
What’s the difference between a night guard and a dental splint?
A night guard is primarily used to protect the teeth from grinding and clenching during sleep, while a dental splint can also reposition the lower jaw, provide TMJ (temporomandibular joint) relief, and may be used in more severe cases for longer durations.
How long will I need to wear my dental splint?
The length of time you’ll need to wear a splint varies. Some patients may only need it briefly, while others with more severe cases might wear it longer. Your dentist will guide you on when to stop wearing the splint based on your specific condition and response to treatment.
Ready for Relief? Let’s Protect Your Smile at Acts Dental
Looking after your smile is our priority at Acts Dental. If you need a dental splint or want to ensure your oral health is on the right track, book a visit by contacting us at (08) 9474 5083 or booking online.
Our team is committed to providing quality care and guidance. We’ll be with you every step of the way, from initial consultation to follow-up appointments, ensuring your dental needs are met with the highest standard of care. Our dental clinic is proud to be a Bupa preferred provider, HBF preferred provider, NIB preferred provider, HCF preferred provider, and Medibank preferred provider dentist in Perth.
Let’s keep that smile bright and healthy together!