Through the use of splint therapy, an artificial biting surface of plastic is created on a retainer like device to be worn on one arch. The biting surface can be altered or modified until a comfortable and stable bite is accomplished. The primary purpose of splint therapy is to improve how the teeth come together. It can be worn to help reduce any stress placed on the jaw and allow the muscles to move easily. It can also assist in pain relief as it helps to reposition the lower jaw so it rests into the socket correctly. It may be recommended part of your overall treatment and it may be designed to fit either the upper or lower teeth.
In most situations, splint therapy is designed for a limited period of time to place a band-aid on the true issue until the patient is able to move forward with more definitive treatment. In some situations where it is identified that bruxism (or tooth grinding) is a significant ongoing problem, causing a continued breakdown of the tooth structure, a routine night guard appliance may be recommended.
Occlusal splints usually have to be adjusted after placement. As the jaw joints are freed up to go to a more physiologic position in their sockets, the biting surface of the appliance may need to be corrected to maintain harmony with the TMJs. The number of times adjustments are needed is dependent on the structural condition of the TMJs.