The Michigan splint is the best protection against the adverse effects of bruxism, both tooth wear and pressure on the temporomandibular joint which can cause neck and head pains.
It is the habit of unconsciously grinding and clenching the teeth in situations of increased nervousness, stress, or anxiety. Many patients can suffer from it both during the day and at night—but especially at night, which is when we release stress unconsciously. It is a condition affecting both adults and children.
Bruxism can have a twofold effect on patients who suffer from it:
1. Tooth wear, crack, and even fracture from ongoing heavy pressure on the tooth structure.
2. Overload of the temporomandibular joint (the bones that connect the cranium to the jaws) due to the ongoing heavy pressure which eventually leads to its wear and causes neck and head pains.
It is a rigid acrylic resin prosthesis that is custom-made so as to ensure a perfect adaptation to each patient’s teeth.
It is flat and must have optimum thickness in order to prevent interference between the teeth and thus lengthen the muscles, decreasing their ability to contract and achieving muscle relaxation. The recommended thickness for the splint is 2-3 mm.
It is very easy to handle. It is placed on one of the dental arcades—generally the upper one—fully or partially covering the teeth. Its goal is to modify and soften the contact that occurs between the arcades by producing a mechanical separation of the teeth that spreads the energy coming from the occlusal force of bruxism. This pressure spread not only prevents teeth contact and protects them; it causes relaxation of facial muscles and reduces tension in the temporomandibular joint. This way, myofacial overload and overstrain are avoided, which not only prevents sore jaws but also neck and head pains.
The Michigan splint is also prescribed for:
Incorrect mandibular position. To redirect the jaw of patients suffering from malocclusion.
Joint problems. To modify joint position when biting and achieve correct biting.
Patients coming to Clínica Áureo Dental usually suffer from nocturnal bruxism, and for this reason we recommend that they use the splint at night—putting it in before going to bed after properly brushing their teeth and taking it off in the morning. In the event that the patient notices grinding or clenching of teeth during the day, especially in moments of anxiety or stress, they could also use it during the day.
It is very common for the splint to feel slightly uncomfortable on the first few nights, which is why we recommend to our patients that they put it in for an hour or two during the day in order to gradually become used to it.
As you see, the Michigan splint is the most widely used method by dentists for preventing the consequences of bruxism on the teeth and the temporomandibular joint.
If you start noticing excessive tooth wear on your teeth, jaw tension, or neck and head pain with no apparent reason, come by Clínica Áureo in Palma de Mallorca.