Periodontal Splints

Splinting is a technique used to stabilize teeth which have become loose as a result of losing the supporting bone around them to periodontal disease, a condition known as secondary occlusal trauma. Frequently the problem is complicated by heavy bite stress.

There are two basic types of periodontal splinting, with some variation. The first is “extra-coronal splinting”, in which a stabilizing wire, fiber-reinforced ribbon, or similar stabilization device, is bonded to the outsides of the teeth like a fixed orthodontic retainer. The second is “intra-coronal splinting”, in which a slot is milled into the affected teeth, and the stabilizing device is inserted into the slot and bonded in place. This can make the splint less visible, but accomplishes the same goal of immobilizing the teeth.

If the teeth have lost more than 40% of the supporting “alveolar” bone around them, a diagnosis of “severe” periodontal disease is made. Most often, teeth that are mobile (loose) enough to require splinting have that diagnosis. However, if the tooth roots are abnormally short or thin, or if the bone around them is not particularly dense, the teeth may be loose when less than 40% of the volume has been lost.

Your dentist can tell you if your teeth are mobile enough to require splinting. Another factor that comes into play is the status of the periodontal disease. If you have active disease, and the bone around the teeth is softened from inflammation, simply bringing the disease under control through other types of periodontal disease management can make the teeth less mobile.