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Occusal splints:An occlusal splint is any removable artificial occlusal surface used for diagnosis or therapy affecting the relationship of the mandible to the maxilla. It may be used for occlusal stabilization, for treatment of temporomandibular disorders, or to prevent wear of the dentition.

A common reason for prescribing an occlusal splint is to protect the teeth from excessive wear in patients with bruxism. Splints are also used frequently to treat patients with internal derangement and other TMDs with associated symptoms, such as tension headache and cervical, neck and oral/facial pain.

A common goal of occlusal splint treatment is to protect the TMJ discs from dysfunctional forces that may lead to perforations or permanent displacements.

Other goals of treatment are to improve jaw-muscle function and to relieve associated pain by creating a stable balanced occlusion. Occlusal splint therapy can be commonly recommended for jaw joint (TMJ) treatments. The temporomandibular (jaw joint) acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull.

TMJ disorders can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. The exact cause of a person's TMJ disorder is often difficult to determine. Your pain may be due to a combination of problems, such as arthritis or jaw injury. Some people who have jaw pain also tend to clench or grind their teeth, but many people habitually clench their teeth and never develop TMJ disorders.

In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders can be alleviated with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments. Severe TMJ disorders may require surgical repair. Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:

  • Pain or tenderness of your jaw
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • Difficulty chewing or discomfort while chewing
  • Aching facial pain
  • Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth

TMJ disorders can also cause a clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth or chew. But if there's no pain or limitation of movement associated with your jaw clicking, you probably don't need treatment for a TMJ disorder. When to see a doctor: Seek medical attention if you have persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw, or if you can't open or close your jaw completely. Your doctor, your dentist or a TMJ specialist can discuss possible causes and treatments of your problem.