Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJ disorder) affects millions of people. TMJ disorder occurs when the jaw is improperly positioned, putting excessive pressure on the temporomandibular joint that controls jaw muscles. Since the TMJ consists of muscle, bone, nerves, and tendons, TMD affects people differently based on the affected structures. Most people with this disorder experience pain and discomfort in the jaw joint, making biting or chewing uncomfortable. Patients may also experience earaches, headaches, and sore facial, neck, and shoulder muscles. Because symptoms creep up gradually and may seem unrelated, this disorder may go undiagnosed for years but can significantly affect your quality of life.
How Is TMD Treated?
There are many different options for managing TMD pain and discomfort, but mouthguards are one of the most effective for alleviating the symptoms. Depending on your dentist’s recommendation, you may wear your mouthguard during the day or night to treat TMJ problems. The device will realign your jaws during sleep and relieve the stress on the TMJ. An over-the-counter mouthguard may not hold your jaw in the correct position as you sleep, so it is advisable to consult a dentist for your custom mouthguard.
Mouthguards Correct Jaw Position
Mouthguards reduce pain caused by TMD by maintaining the correct jaw position. When you sleep, your jaw may rest in a position that exerts extra strain on the TM joint structures. The additional strain all night long may cause pain in the TMJ the following day. A personalized mouthguard will gently reposition the jaw to relieve the pressure. Mouthguards maintain proper jaw position that allows TMJ structures to rest, reducing pain and inflammation.
Mouthguards Prevent Teeth Grinding
Mouthguards prevent teeth from clenching and grinding. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, often occurs at night. As a result, most people do not even know they grind their teeth every time they sleep. Teeth grinding affects the TMJ because the jaw is not allowed to rest at night. Besides, teeth grinding promotes a side-to-side motion of the jaw instead of the normal up-and-down function. These factors place extra strain on the TMJ structures and cause pain and inflammation. The mouthguard’s position discourages teeth grinding and prevents further damage.
Mouthguards Reduce Teeth Clenching
The use of mouthguards at night also protects your teeth from wear caused by clenching. Teeth clenching may occur both during the day and even at night. Just like teeth grinding, teeth clenching also results from stress. Teeth clenching creates muscle tension in the jaw and face. It can also damage tooth enamel and exhausts your jaw muscles. Wearing a custom-made mouthguard can prevent the teeth from clenching. This allows your jaw joint and facial muscles to relax and prevents damage to your teeth.
Relief from TMD is Possible
If you have TMD, choosing the right mouthguard is essential. Customized mouthguards fitted to your unique jaw structure can reduce the pain and symptoms caused by TMJ disorder. Consult your dentist before using mouthguards. Your dentist will offer insight into the best oral appliance for your specific situation. They will also ensure a perfect fit and track your treatment progress. Working with a trusted dental professional to address your TMJ disorder issues will give you the best chance of treatment success.