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Clin Oral Investig. 2004 Dec;8(4):179-95. Epub 2004 Jun 4.

Efficacy of stabilization splints for the management of patients with masticatory muscle pain: a qualitative systematic review.

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Clinic for Reconstructive Dentistry and Temporomandibular Disorders, Dental School, University of Basel, Hebelstr. 3, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.


This study aimed at providing an answer to two clinical questions related to patients with masticatory muscle pain: 1) Does the use of a full-coverage hard acrylic occlusal appliance (stabilization splint) lead to a significant decrease of symptoms? and 2) Is the treatment success achieved with a stabilization splint more pronounced than the success attained with other forms of treatment (including placebo treatment) or no treatment? A systematic search was carried out in different electronic databases, supplemented by handsearch in four selected dental journals and by examination of the bibliographies of the retrieved articles. Thirteen publications, representing nine controlled clinical studies, could be identified. Reporting quality of most studies as assessed with the Jadad score ranged from 1 to 5. Based on the currently best available evidence it appears that most patients with masticatory muscle pain are helped by the incorporation of a stabilization splint. Nevertheless, evidence is equivocal if improvement of pain symptoms after incorporation of the intraoral appliance is caused by a specific effect of the appliance. A stabilization splint does not appear to yield a better clinical outcome than a soft splint, a non-occluding palatal splint, physical therapy, or body acupuncture. The scarcity of current external evidence emphasizes the need for more and better clinical research.

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