Soft versus hard occlusal splint therapy in the management of temporomandibular disorders (TMDs)



To compare between soft and hard occlusal splint therapy for the management of myofacial pain dysfunction (MPD) or internal derangement (ID) of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) with reciprocal clicking.

Patients and methods

This study included 50 patients (age range: 24–47 years) who had been diagnosed with MPD or ID of the TMJ in the form of reciprocal clicking. Patients were divided into two groups. They were treated for 4 months with either a vacuum-formed soft occlusal splint constructed from 2-mm-thick elastic rubber sheets (soft splint group) or a hard flat occlusal splint fabricated from transparent acrylic resin (hard splint group). Monthly follow-up visits were performed during the treatment period. Before treatment and 1, 2, 3 and 4 months after treatment, the dentist measured all parameters of TMJ function (pain visual analog scores, tenderness of masticatory muscles, clicking and tenderness of the TMJ, and range of mouth opening).


All parameters of TMJ function showed significant improvement in both groups during the follow-up period, with a statistically significant difference between the two groups at the 4-month follow-up visit.


Both forms of occlusal splints (soft and hard) improved TMJ symptoms in patients with MPD or ID of the TMJ. However, the soft occlusal splints exhibited superior results after 4 months of use.


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