Dentists: Majority Offer Dental Splints for Headache Relief

June 08, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
Oral appliance therapy is offered by almost all dentists and is used to treat a wide range of problems. Only 6% do not prescribe dental splints, found a recent survey by dental management resource The Wealthy Dentist. Two of three dentists offer the NTI splint, often used for headache relief.

The NTI tension suppression system (commonly known as NTI-tss or NTI) is a dental device that reduces excessive nighttime jaw clenching. The dental appliance itself is a small, removable plastic guard worn over the front teeth and fitted by a dentist. (NTI stands for "Nociception Trigeminal Inhibitor," as it works to relieve trigeminal nerve pain.)

Some dentist use the NTI themselves for headache relief. "I have both a traditional flat plane splint as well as an NTI," said a Minnesota dentist. "The NTI works best for me for headache and Migraine prevention and/or diminishing the pain. I have found this to be true for many of my patients." Agreed a Tennessee dentist, "They work great! I have personally worn one for over 4 years and my migraine headaches are a thing of the past. I will wear this nightly for the rest of my life!"

As with any medical treatment, it's important to understand and treat the underlying causes of pain. "This is a treatment to relieve symptoms. It is recommended that a complete neuromuscular analysis be done on anything more than mild cases," advised a Texas dentist. A California prosthodontist went further, saying, "I think the NTI does more damage than good. It is only for immediate pain relief, not as long term appliance."

Some dentists worry that improper use of the NTI can cause orthodontic problems or jaw pain. "The NTI caused a patient increased TMJ pain," said a Georgia dentist. "The NTI creates anterior open bites if used for the long term," declared a Hawaii dentist. "NTI's are a very easy treatment, but there is a definite possibility of shifting of the occlusion, and the patient should be made to read and sign the consent prior to placement," agreed a Texas dentist.

Other dentists prefer other dental splints or oral appliances. "I believe that full occlusal coverage is a safer splint," said a California dentist, Board Certified in Orofacial Pain. Opined a Massachusetts dentist, "There is no data showing the NTI to be better than other types of splints."

Dentists also use the dental device to treat other conditions, such as teeth grinding. "It's good for people who don't want to spend the 'big bucks' on the bruxism appliance," suggested an Illinois hygienist. An Arkansas dentist uses it to treat dental compression syndrome; a Texas dentist prescribes it for occlusion-related recession; a Colorado dentist uses it diagnostically.

"In general, I think it's great for dentists have more treatment options in their bag of tricks," said dental marketing expert Jim Du Molin. "But the NTI is like almost any other treatment modality: if you don't know what you're doing, you can do more harm than good."