The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull. TMJ disorders can cause pain, functional issues, and a host of other symptoms. Among the most common causes is bruxism, which is the grinding and clenching of the teeth while sleeping. Most people affected by bruxism are not even aware they do it, and so, their headaches, sensitive teeth, and sore jaw may seem like a mystery. Among the most effective and least invasive ways to deal with TMJ syndrome is a custom-fit night guard.
How a Night Guard Helps Your TMJ
A night guard forces the jaw into a proper position and prevents the teeth from grinding. Among the most immediate benefits is the relief from headaches and other pain that the teeth grinding can cause. Your night guard will also avoid chipping and other damage to your teeth, and while that damage may be relatively minor, it can lead to teeth sensitivity that is not. Grinding can also wear down enamel to the point it cannot be restored. Your guard also prevents clenching, which causes stress in the TMJ.
Night guards available over the counter (OTC) are designed to fit a wide range of mouths. You can also have a night guard created by your dentist. This oral appliance will be modeled to your mouth using 3D imaging and thus highly effective at reducing your particular pain and other symptoms. By having the jaw in the optimal position, it relives strain on the surrounding muscles and bone. Your jaw will be relaxed, which will allow you to achieve a better night’s sleep. Often, people who begin wearing night guards stop tossing and turning and are surprised to learn just how much their sleep was linked to their TMJ.
Night Guard: Custom-Fit vs. Over-the-Counter
OTC night guards are certainly less expensive and easier to acquire, which may motivate some patients to consider them. Nevertheless, the generic design is inherently deficient. In fact, some products are not constructed well, and an aggressive grinder can chew through a guard in a month. So, while less expensive up front, OTC products can often become the more expensive option long-term. It varies from person to person, but OTC night guards can be uncomfortable and thus interfere with getting to sleep, discourage the wearer from using them or even cause other oral complications with extended use.
The custom-fit oral appliance overcomes these issues. Since it is designed for your particular mouth, comfort is ensured. If you have specific needs or preferences, those can be accommodated. Your dentist will also use high-quality materials to construct the night guard often in an on-site lab. In fact, custom-fit night guards manufactured in a dental lab often last for a decade and can last even longer.
Using Your TMJ Night Guard
Note that even with a custom-fit night guard, it may take several nights to acclimate. This is to be expected, but once you do acclimate, using the guard will be second nature. Consistent use is proven to relieve tooth sensitivity, headaches, enamel wear, and other symptoms often associated with TMJ syndrome. In addition to your night guard, your dentist may recommend orthodontic procedures, stress management, diet changes, and so forth in order to relieve your symptoms.
Overcome Your TMJ Pain
Discomfort related to your TMJ may be easily treatable, but it can also be indicative of serious health problems. If you experience any of the signs that may indicate TMJ dysfunction, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, is a highly trained dentist with substantial experience diagnosing and treating TMJ problems. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Clark at Scottsdale Dental Excellence today by calling us at 480 585 1853.