This study investigated the effect of stabilization splint (SS) and palatal splint (PS), which had the same design as SS except for the elimination of the occlusal coverage, on sleep bruxism (SB) using a portable electromyographic (EMG) recording system. Sixteen bruxers participated in this study. The EMG activities of the right masseter muscle during sleep were recorded for three nights each in the following five recording periods: before, immediately after, and 2, 4 and 6 weeks after the insertion of the splint. The crossover design, in which each splint was applied to each subject for 6 weeks with an interval of 2 months for a washout period, was employed in this randomized-controlled study. The number of SB events, duration and total activities of SB were analysed. The number of SB events before the insertion of splints (baseline) was 2.98 +/- 1.61 times h(-1). Both splints significantly reduced SB immediately after the insertion of devices (P < 0.05, one-way repeated-measures anova followed by Dunnett); however, no reduction was observed in 2, 4 or 6 weeks (P > 0.05). There was no statistical difference in the effect on SB between the SS and PS (P > 0.05, two-way repeated-measures anova). Both splints reduced the masseter EMG activities associated with SB; however, the effect was transient.