Dental splints are used to treat several orthodontic problems such as sleep apnoea (sleep disorder), loose teeth and bruxism (teeth grinding). It is also used in cases of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

Dental splint and sleep apnoea

A dental splint looks very similar to a gumshield – as worn by sportspeople, and is worn over the upper or lower teeth to protect them. But it can also keep the airway open which enables the patient to breathe as normal and get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep apnoea is a type of sleep disorder in which the patient experiences a narrowing of the throat which prevents them from breathing normally, leading to excessive tiredness and long term health problems.

A dental splint or ‘mandibular repositioning splint’ stops the muscles of the throat from closing which stops breathing. It keeps the jaw and tongue in a forward position which opens up the throat, enabling air to pass through. It also prevents snoring as well.

Dental splints and teeth grinding

How does it work with teeth grinding? If you have a habit of grinding your teeth whilst asleep then think about wearing a dental splint in order to reduce any damage to your teeth. Repeated teeth grinding will wear down the enamel surface of your teeth over time causing long term damage. Plus the grinding action causes pain and discomfort in your face and jaws and headaches as well.

Wearing a splint means that you will wear this down instead of your teeth which is a better option.

Wearing a dental splint

This device is fitted by your orthodontist over your teeth. He/she will choose a splint which is suitable for your dental problem as well as being a good fit for your teeth. The orthodontist will also advise you about how to look after your splint.

Caring for a dental splint

It is important that you look after your splint which means keeping it clean and storing it in a case when not in use. A failure to do so can result in a dirty splint which can spread disease or infection. Plus an improperly stored splint will result in it becoming damaged or deformed which will put unnatural stress on your teeth and is painful to wear.