Dental splints are dental appliances made of transparent plastic or acrylic resin that are worn in the upper or lower jaw. Depending on the shape, hardness and manufacturing process, the splints differ in their function, effectiveness and biology.
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Types of Dental Splints
There are various types of dental splints that have different functions and are widely used in dentistry. Dental splints can be used to help with teeth grinding, TMJ or misaligned teeth.
Grinding Splint - Occlusal Splint - Michigan Splint
The Michigan splint, also known as grinding splint or occlusal splint, is used for teeth grinding. Its purpose is to protect the teeth from grinding and to relax the masticatory system.
This type of splint is made of hard plastic / acrylic and gives the temporomandibular joints freedom of movement, which leads to relaxation via reflex arches. The freedom of movement is created by the free contacts of occlusal surfaces and a guided lateral movement of the lower jaw over the canine teeth – so-called canine guidance.
It is recommended to make the grinding splint for the upper jaw, because it has some advantages compared to a grinding splint for the lower jaw.
TMJ Splint - DROS® Splint - MAGO Splint
Many patients, besides the protection of teeth and muscle relaxation, also need a correction of the temporomandibular joints. This is the most complex type of splint therapy and requires a dentist who has very specific knowledge and experience in the field of TMJ.
For the treatment of temporomandibular joint dysfunctions, TMJ splints can be used. There are various types, such as the DROS® Splint or MAGO Splint. Each of these splints is part of a different concept whereby the therapy is carried out in different ways.
Aligners - Clear Splints
Aligners are also called invisible aligners. These are transparent dental splints, which are able to straighten misaligned teeth. The use of aligners is an elegant way for adults to move crooked teeth into an aesthetic position.
After the teeth have been moved into the correct position, it is important that the new tooth position does not change. For this purpose, the retainer splint can be used. This type of splint keeps the teeth where they should be and prevents them from moving and shifting.
Dental Splint Materials
Dental splints can be soft or hard, depending on the material used. We clearly recommend hard dental splints and discourage the use of soft materials: These can be interpreted by the tooth receptors as soft food, which, via reflex arches, can lead to constant muscle activity.
The following plastic / acrylic materials can be used for dental splints:
- Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)
- Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
- Polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG)
- Urethane dimethacrylate (UDMA)
- Urethane methacrylate (UMA)
- Polyethylene (PE)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polystyrene (PS)
- Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA)
- Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)
- Thermoplastic polycarbonate (TPC)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Methacrylic ester (MAE)
With this abundance of materials, it is very important to use exactly the material that ideally fulfills the function and has as little impact on health as possible.
Production of Dental Splints
There are also different options for production.
- The material can be heated and deep-drawn onto the tooth model. Additional material is applied to the deep-drawn splint, which gives the splint the required shape.
- A 3D printer is used to print the splint.
- With the CAD/CAM process, the splint is milled out of a plastic / acrylic block. The picture shows a block and the milled out dental splint.
The manufacturing process should also always take into account function, longevity and biology.