What is anterior splint therapy?
Anterior splint therapy is a diagnostic procedure using a small bite splint that covers your upper front six teeth. This therapy is diagnostic because it gives the clinician a considerable amount of information about the health of your temporomandibular joints (TMJs or jaw joints). Most importantly, the therapy is used to isolate the cause of your symptoms, decrease muscle pain triggers, and decrease the ligament inflammation within the TM joints.
Why do I need anterior splint therapy?
Jaw disorders are generally an anatomy problem that prevents the jaw joints from functioning normally. The bite splint will alter the stress within the joint capsule and provide a therapeutic benefit. Most people who first need to be treated with anterior splint therapy are experiencing symptoms such as muscle tension in the neck, upper back and head, frequent headaches, pain in and around the ears, ringing in the ears, slight vertigo, phantom toothaches, fractured teeth, and painful popping or locking jaw joints. Unfortunately, these symptoms can be the result of many different problems and splint therapy is needed to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
How does the splint therapy work?
First, splint therapy works by allowing the muscles in the head, neck, and upper back to relax. If there is pressure on the jaw joints from your bite, these muscles are “turned on,” resulting in referred pain to your head, neck, and upper back. Second, the splint allows your jaw joints to sit in the right position. Often times, jaw joints are not in their proper position which adds extra pressure on them while you chew or squeeze your teeth and can result in many of the symptoms listed above. By allowing both your muscles to relax and your jaw joints to sit, we should be able decrease your symptoms considerably. How the symptoms change gives the clinician the information needed to arrive at a proper diagnosis which may lead to further treatment.
What is an anterior splint?
An anterior splint is a hard splint made from a dental material called triad. It takes about 10 minutes to make the splint directly in the mouth. It fits unto the upper six front teeth.
When should I wear my anterior splint?
Your anterior splint should be worn every night while you sleep, for 6 to 12 weeks. The amount of weeks you should be wearing the splint will be determined by the doctor.
What other things should I or shouldn’t I be doing during splint therapy?
- Slowly eliminate the use of pain relievers and muscle relaxers unless otherwise indicated by the doctor.
- Stop using any current appliances worn in your mouth unless it is authorized by the doctor.
- Put ice on your joints (in front of your ears) several times a day and especially at night before going to bed.
- Put heat on your neck and upper back several times a day or at least during the evenings.
- Bring your splint to every appointment and come for all your scheduled appointments.
- Clean your splint by putting it into denture cleaner or brush it with your toothbrush and tooth paste. Do not use bleach on it.
- Keep it out of reach of pets because they consider it to be a tasty treat!
* Remember that the anterior splint allows your jaw joints to move to a better anatomical position. However, this can make you feel like your teeth are not lining up correctly. This is a normal side effect of anterior splint therapy. Changes in the way your teeth meet can occur. Also, it is possible not to achieve any relief from the anterior splint. The decrease of symptoms or the increase of symptoms is all useful diagnostic information.These changes are what make the anterior splint therapy diagnostic; therefore, further treatment to correct TMD and bite disorders will be required. Some common treatments are an orthotic splint, dental reconstruction, orthodontics, orthognathic surgery, and/or bite adjustments. Surgery is rarely needed, however.
I, __________________ have read the information above. I understand that the anterior splint therapy is a diagnostic therapy and that it will not correct a bite problem or TMD, thus requiring further treatment. I also understand that changes to my bite and muscles may occur.