Increasing occlusal vertical dimension (OVD) by means of oral splints is a practice widely used in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD), specifically myofascial pain, although the results are still uncertain. Oral splints with a vertical height that significantly exceeds the clinical rest position are considered by some researchers to be a better therapeutic solution in alleviating TMD symptoms than are “low” splints. In our observational study, 21 patients suffering from myofascial pain were examined for the effects of wearing a “high” oral splint while sleeping for 3 months. To ensure proper splint making, a mandibular stretching procedure was used to induce a relaxation of the patients’ masticatory muscles and allow the correct alignment of the jaws. Results showed a marked increase of the interocclusal distance or “free space” (hence of OVD; from 0.64±0.53 mm to 1.42±0.76 mm, p<0.0001) measured by a kinesiograph, followed by a substantial reduction of the intensity of pain in oral and extraoral regions after using the splint. These results support the view that increasing OVD beyond the clinical rest position is not detrimental to patients’ health. More importantly, high oral splints has been shown to be a promising therapeutic aid for the treatment of TMD and correlated pain syndromes. This clinical trial was registered on clinicaltrials.gov (Identifier: NCT02908568).
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