Occlusal splints are also known as night guards. These acrylic appliances are designed and created specifically for your mouth to protect your teeth from grinding and even help with snoring. Occlusal splints may also help treat headaches or neck pain, as well as being used to treat TMD, or disorders of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ).
Occlusal splints have come in many forms over the years, but the most exciting recent development is 3D-printed night guards, which offer a softer and more custom treatment for bruxism, TMJ dysfunction and more. You wear the soft, easy-fit appliance over your upper teeth when it’s bedtime, and it protects you from bruxism throughout the night.
What Is Bruxism?
Clenching and grinding your teeth while you sleep is called bruxism, and it degrades the enamel of your teeth, exposing the tooth pulp underneath. It can even sometimes get through to the nerve, which will require a root canal. Occlusal splints work by separating and slowly adjusting the placement of your teeth while keeping your teeth from grinding together.
What Are the Types of Splints?
There are several types available, from hard acrylic nightguards that keep your jaws in place to softer hybrids that combine hard acrylic with softer thermoplastic material, which improves comfort while the hard acrylic protects your teeth. Comfort is key in making long-term adjustments since patients who don’t use their splints out of pain or discomfort won’t see any benefits.
Your dentist may use 3D printing to create a custom occlusal splint for your mouth. Made of a biocompatible soft resin, these splints protect the teeth, prevent clenching and grinding, and will last three to five years. The durable resin material stands up to even severe clenching, so these won’t fracture or crack easily.
How Does the 3D Printing Technology Work?
Your dentist will take a scan of your teeth as they are, then digitise them using a 3D Printer. At Coast Family Dental we use an Akuretta Sol 3D printer. This printer has been specifically designed for the dental industry. Our printer is able to analyse the 3D model of the splint, minimising the thickness of the appliance design for a better fit and comfort, before 3D printing your brand-new night guard.
Rinse your splint carefully in cold water every morning. You may also clean the fitting surface with a mild dish washing liquid prior to placing in back in its container dry.
How Long Do I Wear a Splint?
The occlusal splint may be with you long term. It is therefore important to bring your appliance to your regular dental check-ups so that your treating dentist can assess it and adjust if necessary. Although you may feel a “tight” feeling the first night you wear the splint, it will get more comfortable over time, helping your teeth stay strong and protected.
For more information about bruxism, TMJ, and occlusal splints, call Coast Family Dental at (07) 5437 9000 for an appointment today.