Dental splints are used to protect teeth and supporting structures from damage typically caused by grinding or clenching. There are many different types, often in the form of either tooth night guards or occlusal splints.
If you grind your teeth at night, experience TMJ disorder, or play sports, you may benefit from a dental splint or your dentist may have already recommended one.
What is a dental splint?
A dental splint is an orthodontic device used to stabilise, support, or protect teeth and their surrounding structures. They are custom-made and fitted by dentists to meet the specific needs of individual patients.
Splints can be made from a variety of materials, including:
- composite resin
Types of Dental Splints
Orthodontic retainers are a type of dental splint that is used to maintain the position of teeth after orthodontic treatment. These dental splints can be fixed or removable and are commonly made from a clear plastic or acrylic material.
Space maintainers are a type of dental splint that is used to keep teeth in their correct position after a primary tooth, like a central incisor (front tooth), is lost prematurely. These splints can be fixed or removable and are made from metal or acrylic.
Occlusal splints are a type of dental splint that is used to treat bruxism, a condition in which a person grinds or clenches their teeth, and over time can lead to tooth damage, jaw pain, and headaches. These splints are worn at night and help to protect the teeth from damage.
Sports mouthguards are a type of dental splint that is used to protect teeth from injury during sports or physical activity. These splints are made from a flexible plastic material and can be custom-fitted to an athlete’s teeth.
Anterior bite plane splints or stabilisation splints can be used to reduce TMJ symptoms. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are conditions that affect the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement.
Symptoms of TMJ disorders can include jaw pain, stiffness, and difficulty chewing or speaking. Dental splints can help reduce pressure on the joints and promote proper alignment of the teeth and jaw.
How long does a dental splint last?
The lifespan of a dental splint depends on several factors, including:
- the type of splint
- the materials used to make it,
- a patient’s oral hygiene habits.
In general, dental splints can last anywhere from several months to several years. For example, a sports guard may need to be replaced every season, while an orthodontic retainer may need to be worn for several years. It’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions for caring for your dental splint and to have it checked regularly to ensure that it is still fitting properly and effectively.
Dental Splint Procedure
Overall, the dental splint procedure is a relatively simple and straightforward process but involves several steps to ensure that the splint is custom-fitted to the patient’s individual needs.
- Consultation: The first step is to schedule a consultation with a dentist. A dentist will evaluate the patient’s dental health and determine if a dental splint is a right choice for any current dental conditions.
- Impressions: Once a dental splint is recommended, the dentist will take impressions of the patient’s teeth using a putty-like material. These impressions are used to create a model of the patient’s teeth, which is then used to make the dental splint.
- Custom fabrication: Using the model of the patient’s teeth, the dental splint is custom-fabricated using materials such as acrylic, metal, or composite resin. The dentist will ensure that the dental splint fits comfortably and effectively before it is given to the patient.
- Fitting: During the fitting appointment, a patient can try on the dental splint to ensure that it fits properly and feels comfortable. It should fit firmly and snugly to teeth.
- Instructions for use: The dentist will provide instructions on how to wear and care for the dental splint. Depending on the type of dental splint, the patient may need to wear it at night or during the day.
- Follow-up appointments: It’s important to attend follow-up appointments with the dentist to ensure that the dental splint is still fitting properly and effectively. The dentist may recommend periodic adjustments or replacements as needed.
How to clean a dental splint?
Cleaning your dental splint is an important part of maintaining good oral hygiene and prolonging the lifespan of the splint. Here are some tips for cleaning your dental splint:
- Rinse with water: After each use, rinse your dental splint with water to remove any food particles or debris. Avoid using hot water to clean your dental splint, as this can cause it to warp or lose its shape.
- Do not use bleach or other harsh chemicals to clean your dental splint, as this can damage the material and cause discolouration.
- Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a mild soap or denture cleaner to brush your dental splint gently. Be sure to clean all surfaces of the splint, including the crevices and hard-to-reach areas.
- Store your splint properly: When you are not wearing your dental splint, store it in a clean, dry container. Avoid leaving it in direct sunlight or near sources of heat.
- Replace your splint when necessary: Depending on the type of splint and the materials used to make it, your dental splint may need to be replaced periodically. Be sure to follow your dentist’s recommendations for replacing your splint.
By following these tips for cleaning your dental splint, you can help to ensure that it remains clean, hygienic, and effective for your dental health needs.
For help with dental splints
At Dentistry on Coolum, we specialise in providing custom-made dental splints to meet the unique needs of our patients. Our team of experienced dentists will work closely with you to determine the best type of dental splint for your condition and ensure that it fits comfortably and effectively.
If you are in need of a dental splint for any reason, contact us today to schedule an appointment. We are committed to providing our patients with the highest quality dental care and helping them achieve optimal oral health and wellness.