Mouthguards for TMJ Disorder
By Andrew Mortensen, DDS on May 26, 2020
TMJ disorder (TMD) is a painful condition in which the jaw joints become inflamed. It can be caused by bruxism, arthritis, injury, or other types of wear and tear. Symptoms may include orofacial pain, headaches, earaches, and more. Custom oral appliances are a common TMD treatment option offered by Dr. Andrew G. Mortensen at our Fountain Valley, CA, practice. Here, we will explore how mouthguards for TMJ disorder can help alleviate symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.
How a Mouthguard Reduces TMD Symptoms
If you suffer from the effects of TMD, your dentist may recommend a custom oral appliance. This device fits snugly over the teeth and shifts the jaw into a more favorable position, reducing the pressure that leads to pain and tenderness. A custom mouthguard can:
- Reduce or eliminate the effects of bruxism: Chronic teeth grinding or clenching is one of the most common causes of TMD. A custom mouthguard cushions the teeth and protects them from excessive bite pressure while you sleep.
- Stabilize the jaw: Individuals who experience clicking or popping of the jaw may benefit from a custom oral appliance. These splints can realign the jaw and improve the bite.
- Help orofacial muscles relax: If the jaw is not seated correctly, the surrounding muscles and ligaments must work even harder to compensate. Over time, this causes the muscles to tire and become tender. A mouthguard can alleviate this discomfort.
- Prevent the jaw from locking up: Some TMD patients experience locking or stiffness during a flareup. A custom oral appliance keeps the jaw in a more advantageous position to reduce these symptoms.
- Reduce pain associated with worn jaw joints: In cases of injury or arthritis, the articular disc – which cushions the jaw joint and allows it to move freely ¬– becomes worn down. A mouthguard can help ease the discomfort caused by this condition.
Types of Mouthguards for TMJ Disorder
The type of mouthguard required depends on the specific symptoms of each patient. Because every individual is unique, your Fountain Valley, CA, dentist will design an appliance tailored to your needs. There are two primary types of mouthguards for TMJ disorder:
- Stabilization splints: This type of appliance covers all of your teeth. Usually recommended for those with bruxism, a stabilization splint can be made with either soft or hard material and is typically worn only during sleep.
- Repositioning splints: If TMD pain is the result of an ill-positioned jaw, a repositioning splint can move the jaw forward and encourage proper alignment. Oftentimes, these mouthguards are worn all day until symptoms subside, after which a long-term plan is determined.
Other Ways to Improve TMD Symptoms at Home
During a consultation at our Fountain Valley practice, Dr. Mortensen can help determine which type of treatment is right for you. If you are not a candidate for oral appliance therapy, there are other ways to reduce TMD symptoms:
- Jaw exercises: Practice light stretching techniques to reduce tension in the jaw and alleviate pain.
- Cold compresses: Place an ice pack on the external jaw to decrease inflammation and tenderness.
- Mindfulness: Simply being more aware can help alleviate discomfort. Avoid sharp or repetitive movements to reduce pain associated with TMJ disorder.
- Dietary changes: When necessary, modify your diet to include softer foods, which require less chewing. Slowly incorporate normal foods back into your diet once symptoms subside.
Schedule a TMD Consultation Today
If you suspect you might have TMD, schedule a consultation at our Fountain Valley, CA, practice to explore your treatment options. Contact us online or give us a call at (714) 964-4183.
Reach out to us today to set up an appointment and strengthen your oral health.
“I am proud to have served patients in our community. Through continuing education and state-of-the-art equipment, we are able to offer you and your family the high level of care you're looking for.” Andrew G. Mortensen, D.D.S.