3D Printed Splints vs. Thermoformed

So why print? I’ve recently received multiple inquiries about the advantages and disadvantages of 3D Printed night-guards vs. thermoformed. So why do we opt to print rather than fabricate a thermoformed splint. In this article we’ll try and address this and other questions you may have as well. I think the most important element to examine are the symptoms and indications for prescribing an occlusal guard. Let’s begin by taking a look into a few:

1. Myofacial pain associated with the muscles of mastication and group muscular functions of occlusion. 2. Internal condylar derangement due to dislocation of the TMJ, condylar disc or injury to the condyle. 3. Degenerative and/or inflammatory diseases. 4. Loss of vertical dimension due to excessive grinding while bruxing and clinching.

These are a few of the most common scenarios though there are a multitude of symptoms and in some cases even combinations of indications present. It is also important to consider that sometimes in situations of trauma, condylar disfunction may not be present bi-laterally. So knowing these and understanding the nature of temporomandibular joint disorders let’s consider the pros and cons of some material choices.

1. Thermoformed Splint Advantages: Inexpensive Good Retention Clear Disadvantages: Premature posterior contact. Fulcrum that can lead to open bite and super-eruption No functional occlusion No anterior guidance Wears quickly Stains easily Unbalanced 2. 3D Printed Splint

Advantages: Retention- Superior fit Balanced occlusion with even contacts Balanced functional occlusion in excursions May incorporate anterior guidance with cuspid rise Independent condylar settings in trauma situations to mimic natural hinge and rotary Enforced minimal thickness allows proper vertical opening even in the deepest portions of the bite Very durable Less impervious to stain Clear Can be fabricated from intraoral scans or digitized from physical models Disadvantages: Printing can cost a little more I hope that this information will help to clarify some of the questions you may have. The number one thing is that we alleviate pain and discomfort while protecting the TMJ and teeth from further damage. We have all of the resources and technology present to do it so give it a try!


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