Can a TMJ Mouth Guard Help?
If you have recently been diagnosed with TMJ disorder or you’ve been suffering from pain or discomfort while chewing, talking, yawning or otherwise moving the jaw and you suspect TMJ may be the culprit, you may be wondering about the different treatment options available to you. TMJ disorder refers to a syndrome that afflicts the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the lower part of the skull. This syndrome, which is frequently linked to high levels of stress, can cause headaches, vision and hearing problems, and tooth damage. If left untreated, it will only escalate. For this reason, it’s important to address and treat the problem before the pain becomes severe or chronic. In extreme cases, patients may turn to surgery to correct the bite and realign the jaw; however, TMJ surgery can be risky, dangerous and expensive. Most TMJ specialists recommend trying non-surgical treatment methods first, such as mouth guards.
How mouth guards can help relieve your TMJ symptoms
TMJ mouth guards, including night guards and orthotics devices or “bite splints,” are non-invasive plastic objects that work to relieve pain, discourage damaging behaviors and gently repair the misaligned bite over time. There are two main types of mouth guards used for the treatment of TMJ: Night guards and splints. Night guards are dental appliances made of soft plastic that fit over some or all of the teeth and are worn only during sleep to prevent tooth grinding, protect the teeth from wear and tear and relax the jaw. These night guards are available in a wide range of prices, from a very inexpensive model that can be purchased at any drugstore to a customized model designed to fit your teeth precisely. Generally, custom-fit night guards are far more beneficial in treating TMJ symptoms than cheaper over-the-counter guards. They are also more comfortable to wear, which in turn encourages more regular use.
Splint therapy involves using mouth guards to actually correct the bite, rather than simply preventing further damage or relieving pain. This type of therapy is an excellent treatment option for patients with more advanced cases of TMJ, or those who have problems with the bite but not with nighttime tooth grinding. The biggest difference between splint therapy and night guards is that in splint therapy, the guards are worn 24 hours a day, seven days a week, rather than simply at night. As with any type of TMJ mouth guard, there are various kinds of bite splints to choose from, including partial splints, full coverage splits, directive splints and permissive splints. Most patients undergoing full-time splint therapy choose to wear a partial splint on their lower teeth only, for the purposes of both comfort and speech. However, you should consult with an experienced TMJ dentist to determine which type of TMJ mouth guard will work best for you.
For most TMJ sufferers, TMJ mouth guards are an extremely helpful treatment option. They provide comfort and relief without medication, and can even permanently fix the bite without surgery. Millennium Dental are respected TMJ dentists who specializes in the use of orthotics, or splint therapy, to treat TMJ. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and gain your freedom from the pain and discomfort of TMJ disorder.