Oral Appliances for TMJ Disorder

Do you struggle with TMJ pain? Think you might have TMJ disorder (TMD/TMJD)? If so, a bite splint could help alleviate the cause of your discomfort!

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

It’s common for most of us to experience some type of TMJ pain every now and then. Something as simple as biting down wrong or accidentally getting elbowed in the pool is enough to cause some temporary discomfort. But chronic TMD is usually accompanied by ongoing symptoms of:

  •   Pain or discomfort
  •   Stiffness
  •   Limited opening
  •   Popping and clicking
  •   Movement to one side when opening
  •   Flat, worn teeth
  •   Broken dental restorations

When we take an X-ray or scan, we might also see some type of disc or bone deterioration.

What is a Bite Splint?

A bite splint or occlusal splint is a custom appliance that you wear to prevent your teeth from fully closing together. Depending on when you wear it, they’re also referred to as night guards.

Bite splints are different than what you might wear if you’re looking for an athletic mouthguard. These specific types of TMJ devices are designed to prevent your joint from fully engaging. Instead, it trains your TMJ to relax by placing a small amount of space between your teeth. In turn, it eases discomfort.

How are Bite Splints Made?

Nightguards or bite splints are made out of dense, durable acrylic. That way if you still clench and grind your teeth, the acrylic will wear out instead of your enamel. All you need to get started is to have an impression made. Then we use a mold to pour a replica of your bite and fit a precisely formed mouthguard on top of the model.

You’ll want to wear your bite splint any time TMD symptoms are apt to flare up. For a lot of people that means sleeping in it overnight or wearing it on your commute home from work. Since the tension can come while you’re sleeping, focusing, or stressed, it’s important to really listen to your body for early warning signs. The more in tune you are, the more successful you’ll be at combatting TMJ flare-ups.  

Other Treatments for TMD/TMJ Disorder

Some people suffer from TMD symptoms because of undiagnosed sleep apnea. If you have a sleeping disorder, it can cause you to clench your jaw tightly while you’re sleeping. The next morning, you’re left with a sore TMJ, teeth, or even a painful headache. If that’s the case, sleep apnea therapy may be necessary.

Other individuals complain of TMJ pain because of the way their teeth are biting together. If your jaw has to move irregularly because of misaligned teeth, it can eventually lead to TMD. That’s why orthodontic therapy is frequently incorporated into certain types of TMD therapies.

Injectables such as Botox aren’t just for aesthetics or smile makeovers, either. They can also be incorporated into TMJ therapy because the medication is a natural muscle relaxer. When applied at key points around your TMJ and facial muscles, it can help with tension-induced symptoms.

Some people also find massage, moist heat, and physical therapy to be beneficial in managing their TMJ flare-ups.

Will I Need Surgery for My TMJ?

TMJ surgery is quite rare. In fact, the majority of scientific studies show that the best route of care for TMD is to utilize non-surgical, non-invasive therapies first (like a bite splint). The success rate for treatment is much higher in non-surgical treatments than it is for complex oral surgery. Simply because after surgery it’s less likely for your joint to function at 100% of where it was prior to developing TMD.

Of course, there will always be exceptions. If you have a fractured jaw, some type of degenerative disc disease, or other physical impairment within your TMJ, then surgery may be the best option.

Thankfully for most Newport Beach TMJ cases, an oral appliance such as a bite splint is the ideal treatment method.

How to Know Whether You Need an Oral Appliance

If you’re experiencing frequent symptoms of TMD, it’s best to meet with our Newport Beach dentist for an exam. At that point, we’ll assess all of your symptoms. Depending on the cause of your TMD, an occlusal splint or night guard may be the best treatment option. But Dr. Yazdan will need to assess other factors to determine if there are other circumstances at play. In addition to using a bite splint, adjunctive therapies like Invisalign or Botox injectables may be an option.

The key to taking the next steps is to meet with our experienced Newport Beach dentist to discuss your symptoms. After examining your TMJ and X-rays, we can determine if you have TMJ disorder or if additional therapies are necessary.

TMJ Disorder Screenings | Newport Beach

Call The Center For Restorative & Cosmetic Dentistry today to reserve an appointment. Our Newport Beach team will be happy to assist you!

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