|Compend Contin Educ Dent. 1999 Mar;20(3):249-54, 256,
258-9; quiz 260.
Use and abuse of bite splints.
School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
Bite splints are often used in the treatment of patients with oral
parafunctions, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, or
temporomandibular disorders. The most common reasons for prescribing a
bite splint are to protect the teeth in patients with bruxism, to improve
jaw-muscle and TMJ function, and to relieve related pain. The risk for
negative side effects is small in conservative bite splint treatment.
Complications from long-term use of splints, however, can be severe and
irreversible. The risks are especially high when mandibular advancement
splints, or splints that make contact only with parts of the opposing
dentition, are used for more than 4 to 6 weeks without appropriate
supervision. As a general rule, a dentist should not encourage a patient
to use any type of splint for more than a few months except for cases in
which the teeth need to be protected because of persistent oral
parafunctions. Appropriate record keeping, including signed consent forms,
is necessary; when neglected, it becomes difficult for the dentist to
defend himself from false accusations of malpractice.
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