An orthotic device in dentistry is a custom made device which is used to reposition the jaw when a patient is suffering jaw pain caused by temporomandibular disorder, malocclusion or sleep apnea. Normally, the orthotic device is just one of several different strategies that a dentist may use to help treat the problem after a thorough assessment and diagnosis.
Orthotic devices may be used if more traditional mouthguards have not been effective in eliminating any problems, such as TMJ disorder. The device is worn both during the day time as well as at night. If the device has been prescribed for the treatment of sleep apnea, then it will be designed to allow the wearer to get a good night’s sleep. The orthotic device, in this case, is specifically designed to keep the tongue from falling back and blocking the opening to the airway down to the lung – a common cause of sleeping disorders like sleep apnea.
Orthotic devices for sleep disorders
When an orthotic device is suggested as a measure for treatment for sleep disorders or jaw pain, the dentist will take an impression of the teeth and adapt the orthotic to the teeth pattern. There are a number of very good orthotic devices now available and your Burlington, Ontario dentist may suggest that one be fitted if you have tried a continuous positive airways pressure device (CPAP) and found it uncomfortable, or difficult to get used to.
Orthotic devices for malocclusion or TMD
Temporomandibular disorder is a complex disorder of the important pair of joints that allow movement between the lower mandible or jaw bone and the upper maxilla. The joint is essential for normal talking, drinking and eating. When there is misalignment of the jaw joint it can cause a number of symptoms which are often hard to trace to the jaw joint itself. Symptoms include jaw pain, neck and facial pains, drowsiness and dizziness, headaches, numbness, jaw clicking and grinding.
Normally, the dentist will use an analytical module to help assess the state of the joint causing the problem and may also stimulate the joint electrically to make it relax. The jaw problem may be caused at least in part by malocclusion or a misalignment of the teeth, causing a ‘bad bite’. When the teeth cannot bite properly it puts strain on the jaw, disturbing the TMJ. Your Burlington, Ontario dentist may suggest orthodontic treatment to correct any badly aligned teeth and an orthotic device to gently force your jaw into a better position.