Types of dental splints
Occlusal splints are made from strong acrylic plastic that's custom moulded to fit over your teeth. They may be fitted over the top teeth or bottom teeth as needed and they are usually clear to make them more discreet and less visible in the mouth. Although dental splints resemble sports mouthguards, they don't work in the same way.
You may see bite splints and nightguards for sale in stores, but these over-the-counter splints are not recommended, as they are not custom made to fit your teeth. A poorly-fitted splint may even cause damage or put strain on your teeth or jaws.
How are dental splints made?
Making an occlusal splint usually involves two appointments at the dental clinic after your initial consultation and examination.
- On your first visit, an impression or mould of your top and bottom teeth will be taken and sent to a dental laboratory. They will assess your bite and manufacture a custom splint suited to your mouth and jaw movements.
- On your second visit, usually a week later, your dental splint will be ready for us to fit it in for you. We'll check that it feels comfortable and advise you about how to care for your splint and your teeth.
Wearing your dental splint
When to wear your dental splint depends on what the treatment is for. You may wear it during the night or to relieve jaw pain and other symptoms at certain times during the day. As the splint is removable, it should be taken out when you need to eat, drink or brush and floss your teeth.
A new bite splint can feel strange or uncomfortable on your teeth at first, but you should be used to it within a few weeks. Your mouth may also produce more saliva while it adjusts to the feeling of the splint. If your dental splint causes pain or feels loose, make an appointment with our dentists.
Caring for your dental splint
You should rinse your dental splint or nightguard after every use to prevent bacteria from building up. Rinse in cold water only, as heat can cause it to warp out of shape. Store your dental splint in plain water to keep it from drying out. You should also keep it out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources.
Bring your dental splint along to your regular dental check-ups so our dentists can check that it's still in good condition and can make any adjustments needed. When you take good care of your occlusal splint, it can last for 3 to 5 years before it needs to be replaced.