An occlusal splint, also known as a nightguard or dental splint, is a custom-made oral appliance used to protect the teeth and jaw during sleep. It is typically made from acrylic material and fits over either the upper or lower teeth, creating a cushioning barrier between the upper and lower dental arches.
The primary purpose of an occlusal splint is to address issues related to bruxism, a condition where a person unconsciously grinds or clenches their teeth during sleep. Bruxism can lead to several dental problems, including tooth wear, jaw pain, headaches, and even temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).
The occlusal splint helps reduce the impact of teeth grinding by providing a smooth surface for the teeth to glide against, thereby preventing further damage and offering relief to the jaw muscles and joints.
Moreover, it may be needed to aid in the diagnosis and management of various other dental conditions, such as malocclusions, jaw misalignment, and certain types of sleep-related breathing disorders.