What is TMJ Splint Therapy?
TMJ disorder, which afflicts the temporomandibular joint, can negatively affect sufferers in a number of different ways. To begin, the pain and discomfort of TMJ syndrome is a constant annoyance. Over time, the pain may become nearly unbearable, requiring prescription medication for simple relief. Additionally, TMJ symptoms affect any activity that involves the jaw. This means that activities that are normally undertaken many times each day, such as talking and eating, can become an uncomfortable ordeal to the TMJ sufferer. In the past, people with TMJ problems often resigned themselves to suffer in silence rather than undergo costly and potentially risky surgical procedures to fix their bite. However, with the help of a skilled TMJ specialist, you have options. One excellent treatment option for TMJ syndrome is splint therapy. Splint therapy aims to correct the patient’s bite without surgery, through the use of dental appliances that align the jaw gradually over time.
Many people who have TMJ problems grind their teeth in their sleep. To solve this problem, their doctor or dentist may suggest the use of a night guard or mouth guard, which is a plastic guard that protects the teeth from the damage inflicted by repeated grinding motions. Splint therapy should not be confused with the use of night guards. To begin, these splints, usually made of plastic and often referred to as orthotic devices, are worn on a daily basis, rather than simply at night. In addition, the purpose of splint therapy differs from that of the night guard. While night guards seek to protect teeth, splints aim to gently force the jaw into a more natural and comfortable position in order to alleviate TMJ symptoms. The goal is to create a bite that allows the temporomandibular joint to remain in its socket when all of the teeth come together, and to make sure that all of the teeth come together at the same time. With regular use and careful adjustment by a qualified TMJ specialist, these splints can be used to produce permanent results, all but curing patients of their TMJ problems.
Different kinds of splints can be used
Some splints are worn on the upper teeth, while others are worn on the lower teeth. Generally, lower teeth splints are preferred, simply because most patients find them more comfortable and more conducive to speech – a concern that is of particular importance when the device is to be worn 24 hours a day. There are also partial coverage and full coverage splints. While partial coverage splints are worn over only the back or front teeth, splints that provide full coverage are worn over all of the teeth. This allows the specialist who is overseeing the splint therapy more control over the creation of the new bite, and lessens the chances that the teeth or jaw could shift over time. Finally, there are directive and permissive splints. While directive splints hold the jaw in a fixed position, permissive splints allow it to find its own position and move more smoothly and naturally. Permissive splints are a more modern alternative that many patients find less restrictive and easier to wear on a daily basis.
If you suffer from TMJ and you feel that splint therapy may be right for you, don’t hesitate to contact a TMJ specialist with a background in orthotics. Millennium Dental is one such specialist. They have pioneered the use of splints as a successful and permanent TMJ treatment. Schedule your appointment today.