Sometimes our patients come in to visit A Plus Dental and ask us about “mouthguards” and “splints.”
But mouthguards and mouth splints do not mean the same thing in the dental world.
The difference between a mouthguard and splint are expressed in their names:
A guard protects you, so mouthguards protect your teeth, while a splint holds two parts in position to prevent harmful movement, and that’s precisely what dental splints do.
This means that mouthguards and mouth splints are used to treat entirely different dental conditions, with mouthguards typically being a protective device against external damage, while mouth splints are protective devices against damage caused within the mouth.
Let’s take a look at these two similar sounding, but different appliances!
Mouth splints and bruxism
Tooth grinding is a medical condition called bruxism. Untreated, bruxism wears down your natural tooth enamel. Those who grind and clench their teeth may experience nearly 80 times the normal wear and tear.
Splints provide many benefits for tooth grinders – they are custom made and comfortable. They relieve neck, head, jaw, and shoulder pain while protecting existing teeth and dental restorations.
Mouth splints and TMJ Dysfunction
Many people suffer from unexplained earaches, dizziness, face, head, neck, shoulder, and back pain, without knowing the cause of their pain.
At one time, patients seeking medical cures for these types of problems were told it was “all in their mind.”
Today, however, a condition called TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome is known to be responsible for many of these painful ailments.
Treating the underlying problem and not the symptoms is the key to TMJ treatment. With new awareness and technology, dentists can diagnose and address TMJ problems, which might previously have been overlooked.
Mouth splints may be used in these cases to protect teeth from grinding and eliminate bite pain and disharmony. In some cases, permanent treatment is prescribed to duplicate the effects of the appliance.
The importance of mouthguards for athletes
- It is estimated that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year.
- An athlete without a mouthguard is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to their teeth.
- Sports-related dental trauma accounts for over 600,000 emergency room visits each year.
- Athletes using generic mouthguards are doubly likely to suffer a concussion than those who wear custom built mouthguards.
Let’s go over the essential functions of the mouthguard:
- Mouthguards help prevent bruising and cuts from impact.
- Mouthguards help prevent tooth dislocation or fracture by cushioning the teeth.
- Opposite teeth are kept from contact with each other.
- The bottom jaw bone is protected, so impact does not fracture or damage it.
- Mouthguards help reduce concussive injury to the brain. Without a mouthguard, an impact to the mouth can cause the jaws to violently clash, which can result in a concussion.
- Mouthguards can be a preventative tool against neck injuries.
- Mouthguards help athletes feel more confident and protected.
Usually, mouthguards cover your upper teeth. However, dentists may recommend that athletes with protruding jaws, braces, or other dental appliances (such as retainers, bridgework, or implant-supported dentures) on their lower jaw wear a mouth guard on their lower teeth as well.
Types of Mouthguards
Over-the-counter mouthguards are smooth, pre-formed, u-shaped trays that cover the entire top row of teeth to prevent lower and upper teeth from clashing against each other.
The most common over-the-counter mouthguards are shaped in a method called “boil and bite”. The mouthguard is boiled as directed by the instructions and the plastic becomes pliable. The heated mouthguard is carefully placed in the mouth and bitten down on. Additional adjustment or trimming may be necessary.
Significant downsides to OTC guards are thin plastic, you have to be very careful when moulding them, they can be easily bitten through, they aren’t comfortable, and their fit is questionable.
In almost all cases, custom fitted mouthguards are a superior option.
Custom-fitted mouthguards allow easy breathing and can absorb shocks from impact to your teeth and jaws. Because they fit perfectly, they stay put in your mouth.
A custom mouthguard can help prevent costly dental procedures such as reconstructive surgery or emergency dental work.
But here is the good news. Whether you need mouth splints to protect against internal threats or mouthguards to protect your teeth or those of a sporty relative or child, at A Plus Dental, we can help you.
Give us a call!
It All Adds Up at A Plus Dental!
A Plus Dental believes in honesty, trust, individuality, compassion and comfort. Our goal is to give our Campbelltown area patients, from infants to seniors, caring, relaxing treatments in a comfortable environment. When you choose A Plus Dental, you take the next step towards a beautiful, healthy smile with teeth that feel great in your mouth!!
We have over 30 years of combined experience and treat each of our patients with the utmost care and respect.
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