How to care for your splint



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Ocean View Dental

Office of: Summer T. Wood, D.M.D. and Craig A. Mason, D.D.S.


HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR SPLINT

Your splint should be cleaned frequently, especially after it has been worn and will be stored for a period of time. The splint will collect debris, stains and odors if not cleaned properly. Cleaning can be done with your toothbrush and soap and water. Toothpaste is too abrasive for the plastic, and should not be used for cleaning a splint. Soaking it in a diluted bleach solution once a week or in an effervescent solution several times a week in addition to the cleaning with a brush will also minimize staining and odors.

When the splint will not be worn for more than a few hours, it should be stored in a moist environment. A sealed zip-lock bag or a case with a little water is adequate to keep the splint from drying out and possibly warping.

Always bring the splint with you to the clinic when you have a follow-up appointment.

Remember to keep the splint out of reach of little hands and pets.

Do not store in direct sunlight or in a hot environment.

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SPLINT:


  1. The splint should work as an excellent reminder to keep the teeth apart and the jaw in a relaxed position. When your teeth touch the plastic of the splint, let that be a reminder that your jaw muscles are becoming tense and you need to relax the jaw, face and neck muscles

  2. When you detect the jaw muscles becoming tense or the opposing teeth touching the splint, sit back in your chair, support the head against the wall or whatever is available and relax. Supporting the head makes relaxing the neck muscles easier which in turn, makes relaxing other muscles easier.

  3. Remember, jaw muscles are relaxed when the jaw is open enough to pass a pencil between the upper and lower teeth. When the teeth are together, there is more pressure on the jaw muscles and the joints. This pressure helps to perpetuate the pain and joint damage. When the teeth are apart, the muscles can relax and the joints can heal.

  4. Remember, muscles are most likely to become tense with clenching when you are least likely to notice it. Wear of the splint during these times will help you to minimize clenching. This usually occurs during times then you are concentrating on a mental or physical activity (driving or exercise).

  5. Unless otherwise directed by your dentist, splints should NOT be used while eating. However, initially they are more helpful if used as much as possible for faster relief of symptoms. Long term, most patients can reduce daytime wear of their splint, but most have to wear it at night indefinitely. At this time, there is no known treatment that will “cure” or eliminate clenching or bruxing completely. Splints help control bruxing, WHILE THEY ARE BEING USED.

DAILY CARE FOR TEMPEROMANDIBULAR DISORDERS (TMD)

Success in treatment of TMD is dependent upon YOUR daily control of the problem. Others can help, but the primary responsibility of controlling the condition and eliminating inflammatory factors is in your hands. The following suggestions should be followed every day unless otherwise specified by your dentist.



  1. Resting the muscles and joints will facilitate healing. This includes:

    1. Eating soft foods. Avoid crunchy and chewy foods like hard nuts, chips, carrots, tough meat, hard raw vegetables and hard breads. Try baby foods, soups, milkshakes, eggs, jello, etc. When symptoms start to improve, you may eat harder food. However, food should be cut into small bite-sized pieces. Do not open the mouth any more than necessary

    2. NO CHEWING GUM OR ICE! NO HOLDING OF OBJECTS BETWEEN THE TEETH!

  2. AVOID OPENING WIDE. This protects the joints and muscles from overstretching. It includes:

  3. MOIST HEAT provides more relief than dry heat.

    1. Wet towels with water that is as hot as the skin can stand. Wring one of them out and wrap it around the back of the neck and up both sides of the face, covering the jaw muscles and temples. SIT BACK WITH THE HEAD SUPPORTED, LET THE JAW HANG OPEN AND RELAX.

    2. AFTER heat has been applied, try gentle stretching within the limits of pain.

    3. Apply several times a day for 5-10 minutes each time.

  4. COLD – especially helpful for acute injuries (less than 72 hours)

    1. A small ice pack may be placed directly over a painful joint for up to 10 minutes.

    2. Painful muscle conditions can sometimes be helped by stroking an ice cube over the muscle for 20 seconds followed by warming with moist heat and a gentle massage.

  5. Massaging the jaw and temple muscles, especially after application of moist heat, stimulates circulation, relaxes muscles and decreases soreness.

  6. Maintain good posture. Avoid a head forward posture which may increase jaw and neck muscle activity.

  7. HOLD THE PHONE. Do not cradle the phone. It irritates jaw and neck muscles.

  8. Sleep on your side. Lie on your side with a pillow between your neck and shoulders and a soft support along the face and jaw or sleep on your back with the neck curve supported.

  9. Exercise regularly. 3-4 times a week – 20-30 minute intervals

  10. Practice stress reduction.

  11. Eat well. Good nutrition promotes joint and muscle healing.

  12. Disengagement of the teeth. To achieve long lasting relief from TMD problems, it is essential that clenching and grinding of teeth be minimized. It is important to learn to keep your teeth apart and jaw relaxed. You must make a conscious effort to separate the teeth and keep the jaw relaxed. You are more likely to clench your teeth when you are under stress, and you may not be aware that you are doing it.

    1. Separating the teeth and relaxing the jaw allows the muscles to rest and provides a more normal relationship for the jaw itself.

    2. REMEMBER: The teeth should seldom actually touch, except during chewing and swallowing.

    3. Oral habits such as biting cheeks, lips, fingernails, pens or other objects may aggravate the muscles and joints. Eliminating these habits will aid significantly in improving your condition.

    4. Controlling your muscle tension and clenching habits is difficult but it is also vital to the success of your treatment. The most important part of your treatment is entirely up to you.


Ocean View Dental, 970 North Kalaheo Avenue, Suite C309, Kailua, HI 96734

Phone (808) 254-5503 Fax (808) 254-4645 oceanviewdental@hotmail.com



Office of: Summer T. Wood, D.M.D. and Craig A. Mason, D.D.S.






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