As a dentist who routinely incorporates TMJ or neuromuscular therapy in his care, Dr, Plascyk does a splint and guard therapy for his patients. A bite guard or splint is a piece of hard plastic that fits between the upper and lower teeth. The guard or splint controls how the top or bottom teeth come together upon it. This, in turn, controls the position of the jaw and reduces stress on the TMJ (jaw joints), jaw muscles and the teeth, which controls damage to the soft and hard tissues of the TMJ (jaw joint) and the mouth.
Two basic types of dental splints or guards are directive splints and permissive splints. Directive splints hold the lower jaw in a fixed position. Dr. Plascyk does not use these types of splints. Permissive splints or guards allow the jaw to move freely when the opposing teeth are contacting it. Permissive splints are the most common type of splints used by dentists.
Guards can be purchased in stores also. Unlike the typical bite guard made by a dentist, a store-bought guard is made of soft material. Since the material is soft and it is not made by a dentist, jaw position and movements cannot be controlled. Dr. Plascyk does not recommend them.
I have often found that patients are incorrectly treated with guards/splints when they have TMD (TMJ) pain caused by occluso-muscle disorder. Guards are often given to patients without any proper planning or follow-up. Guards have to be made correctly and worn correctly for them to work. Guards therapy also takes a lot of patience from the doctor as well as patient. I have found that guards are extremely effective for my patients if the correct time and effort is put into them. Finally, even if made correctly, guards/splints will not help TMD (TMJ) pain and dysfunction if it is not caused or exacerbated by occluso-muscle disorder.