Material for a bite splint
A bite splint or Michigan splint can be made of different materials depending on the manufacturing process. Usually, bite splints are produced in the dental laboratory with a so-called deep-drawing device after taking an impression and then the necessary splint to tooth contact points are ground in. Normally, i.e. in case of no known incompatibilities, a transparent, thermoplastic material of the type PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) or PETG is used.
This plastic has the property of becoming deformable at temperatures above 100 degrees Celcius and can then be pulled over the tooth model by vacuum. Afterwards the plastic cools down again and hardens. After finishing and grinding the tooth contacts on the splint, the bite splint can be inserted.
The plastics used are CE-certified and therefore harmless to health. Since the plastic is not as abrasion resistant as the normal tooth, the bite splint will crunch and have to be replaced. However, this is intentional, because a bite splint should always protect the natural teeth. One should differentiate the “bleaching splints” from the Michigan splints, here a more flexible plastic is chosen, which means the material is usually the same, but reduced in the diameter of the splint. However, due to the different application this is intended.
Bite splint and CMD
A bite splint can also be useful for the treatment of a so-called craniomandibular dysfunction (short: CMD). CMD is a disease of the masticatory system, which in most cases is caused by a disproportion between the lower and upper jaw. Especially during biting, the upper and lower jaws of a patient suffering from CMD do not meet in the ideal position.
As a result, the masticatory muscles are over- and understressed, which can cause severe pain and swelling. The cause of such an anatomical imbalance can be genetic predisposition and psychological stress. In addition, traumatic effects on the jaw can also contribute to the development of this disease.
In addition, especially those people who have badly fitted crowns and/or bridges, excessively high fillings or extreme tooth misalignment often have CMD. The majority of CMD patients report moderate to severe pain in the chewing and facial muscles. Often the temporomandibular joint is also affected by pain.
In addition, nocturnal teeth grinding and excessive clenching are among the classic symptoms of CMD. In addition, many sufferers experience frequent dizziness and earaches or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). In order to effectively treat craniomandibular dysfunction (CMD), an ideal interaction between dentist, orthodontist, orthopaedic surgeon, physiotherapist and osteopath is usually necessary.
The dentist is responsible for adjusting crowns, bridges and/or fillings in the course of the therapy to ensure an ideal bite (occlusion). In addition, experience has shown that a bite splint (so-called functional splint) is particularly suitable to reduce the overstrain on the temporomandibular joints and thus alleviate the patient’s complaints in the long term. Such a splint is placed on the dental arch and can be removed from the patient’s mouth by himself at any time.
The occlusal splint for the treatment of CMD should be worn by the patient, especially during the night, to prevent teeth grinding and a too firm clenching of the rows of teeth. In most cases it is already possible to counteract the effects of craniomandibular dysfunction (CMD) by wearing the bite splint and to ensure that the chewing muscles are evenly stressed again. An occlusal splint for the therapy of CMD is usually only made for the lower jaw and attached to the teeth.
Wearing the bite splint regularly does not only alleviate the complaints in the jaw area, because the interaction of the muscles of different body regions has a positive effect on the entire body statics. It also relieves pain and tension in the neck region, which often occurs in CMD patients. For this reason, the treatment should be urgently coordinated with a physiotherapist and/or orthopaedist.