If you’re like many dental patients, you may suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder, known as TMD. This condition has no one specific cause; however trauma to the jaw joint or muscles of the head and neck can trigger the onset of TMD. Patients with TMD often experience:
- Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint, neck and shoulders throughout the day
- Problems opening and closing their jaws accompanied by clicking or popping noises
- Frequent earaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness and ringing in the ears
Treatment for TMJ
While treatment can range from the minimum of taking ibuprofen whenever the pain flares, to corrective surgery, patients have found success in treating TMD with mouth guards. These non-invasive oral appliances are customized to relieve pain, while minimizing the risk of future oral health complications.
Selecting the Right TMJ Appliance
When determining the right oral appliance for your TMJ needs, you may be evaluated for one of two appliances: a bite splint or a night guard. A bite splint physically corrects the bite. Unlike night guards, bite splints are worn 24-7 and pull the lower jaw forward in such a way that it corrects jaw alignment and relieves pressure. As bite splints are a more elevated approach in treating TMD, a night guard may be recommended first.
How Night Guards Works
Treating TMD with a mouth guard is an excellent solution, as it efficiently relieves points of tension and prevents bruxism, or the habitual grinding of teeth. The guard acts as a barrier between the upper and lower jaw and prevents teeth from grinding together, while allowing the jaw itself to relax during sleep. Simply separating the jaw arches has a positive, domino effect on the other parts of the mouth, face and upper chest. Additionally, daytime oral appliances are available for patients who need assistance in relaxing their jaw. With daytime appliances, the jaw is slowly conditioned to rest in a position with the teeth apart, rather than clenched.
Treatment with mouth guards is non-invasive. Unlike oral surgery or orthodontic treatment to correct certain TMJ issues, mouth guards are removable and in the event the patient is non-responsive to oral appliance therapy. For many patents, mouth guards provide the ideal solution to relieving TMD pain.
If you feel that you could benefit from a mouth guard to treat your TMD pain, call Aggieland Dental Associates today!