There is a variety of dental splints available to dental patients. The use of each type of splint varies, depending on the patient’s clinical needs, the clinician’s requirements, and the desired outcome. One of the most commonly prescribed dental splints is the traditional flat-plane occlusal splint, which fits over the maxillary arch. This splint’s ability to treat a wide variety of issues makes it a popular choice among many.
For many years, a clear or tooth-colored hard acrylic (made with methyl methacrylate) was used. But this material had many issues. One major flaw was polymerization shrinkage, causing the appliance to warp during the curing process. These days, the use of pressure-molded technologies, to create plastic splints is more common. These splints are more flexible and can also capture undercuts for greater retention. After formation, small amounts of hard, light-cured acrylic can be placed onto these bases, creating the correct occlusion to match the opposing dentition. The more the stability of the occlusal plane, the greater the relief from jaw pain.
Thermoplastic materials offer even greater patient comfort. They capture even deeper undercuts that offer more retention with less chance of breaking. These materials can slightly flex when softened in warm water while still retaining the correct shape. Once inserted into the mouth, they can conform to the contours of the patient’s teeth.
Benefits of Dental Splints
Dental-splint therapy can treat multiple problems such as TMJ pain and severely worn dentition, often caused by bruxism. Always ensure that the occlusal schematics are accurately captured, that the splint protects the opposing dentition, and that it does not feel too bulky to wear, which will increase patient comfort.
Since the introduction of the dental splint, its design has significantly evolved, leading to higher patient comfort. The techniques for producing dental splints have also improved, requiring less chair-side time to fit them properly.