One of the most common and noninvasive TMJ treatments is an oral splint, also called a bite guard or dental splint. There are no permanent effects of treating TMJ with most oral appliances, no biochemical changes, and few side effects. Oral appliances are also available in a wide range of types and styles, so there are many options to customize the treatment to your TMJ symptoms and your lifestyle.
The Goals of Oral Splint Treatment
The first goal of oral splint treatment is to never make your bite worse. Certainly, it is possible that an oral splint can do more harm than good, and may even cause lasting problems, but we work hard to ensure that never happens with our patients. Dr. Haddad is one of the most highly trained neuromuscular dentists in Michigan, and his commitment to multidisciplinary treatment means he will only employ an oral splint if he feels it’s the right treatment.
The second goal of oral splint treatment is to relieve your symptoms. This may include protecting your teeth from future damage from bruxism, avoiding further damage to your temporomandibular joints, and relieving muscle tension that is responsible for jaw pain, headaches, and other symptoms.
The third goal of oral splint treatment is to help bring your bite into a more healthy position. This is where we may refine your treatment and adjust or replace your splint. After scientific analysis of the optimal position of your jaw joint, we have a good approximation of the optimal position for your jaw joint. But there’s always some potential for “noise” introduced by your previous dysfunction, and that noise can lead to problems with your oral splint, so we may adjust it.
Once we have determined the optimal bite position, you can continue wearing your oral splint or consider reconstructive dentistry that will make your results permanent.
Types of Oral Splint Treatment
Oral splints can accomplish their goals in many different ways. First, there is a distinction between occluding splints and non-occluding splints.
Occluding splints are intended to help put your jaws in a more relaxed position. The goal may be to relieve muscle tension, to reduce damage to the jaw joint, or both. These are sometimes called stabilization splints.
Non-occluding splints aren’t intended to reposition the jaw. They are more typically used to protect your teeth from damage related to bruxism.
An oral splint is not a “magic” device and can’t always resolve all your symptoms at once. Best results from oral splint treatment often comes when it is used in concert with other treatments like physical therapy. We will work with our care partners to ensure that you are getting the best combination of treatments for your TMJ.