Found close to the ears on both sides of the face, the temporomandibular joints can usually open and close the jaw without challenge. But for an estimated 10 million Americans, problems affecting these joints can cause TMJ disorder (TMD) — a condition characterized by chronic jaw pain, stiffness, headache, and dental sensitivity. Fortunately, patients don’t have to deal with constant discomfort — in many cases, custom night guards can offer relief. If you’re struggling with TMD, here’s what you should know about wearing a night guard.
What Is a Night Guard?
Night guards are custom dental appliances that your dentist can create. After taking an impression of your teeth, your dentist will mold a rigid covering — usually made of plastic — that will fit securely over one or both rows of teeth. Also known as an occlusal splint, this device is usually worn throughout the night and removed during the day.
How Does the Night Guard Help TMJ Disorder?
Custom night guards can address a few common causes of TMD. For example, if your symptoms are due to an improper bite, these devices can help shift your jaw bones to take tension off the underlying joints and muscles. Night guards can also help pad the teeth from bruxism — chronic nighttime teeth grinding that can stress the temporomandibular joints, and in turn, cause TMD.
What If a Night Guard Isn’t the Right Solution for Me?
According to the National Institutes of Health, occlusal splints should only be worn for a few weeks to produce the desired effects. However, if you don’t experience relief after several weeks, it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist about alternative treatment options.
If your TMD is caused by a permanent bite issue, your provider may recommend a form of therapy that uses orthodontic appliances to slowly readjust your jaws until they reach an ideal position. Ice application, stretching, and stress management may also help reduce the intensity of the condition.
If TMD is causing you severe pain and discomfort, Greenery Park Dentistry can introduce you to state-of-the-art TMJ therapy options. The Kalispell, MT-based clinic is equipped to relieve TMD pain with the help of dental appliances that are designed specifically for each patient. Holding patient comfort as a priority, this practice will provide support every step of the way to ensure your treatment is not only working, but is also comfortable. To learn more about the advanced dental care this team offers, visit them online. To schedule an appointment, call (406) 755-6116 to speak with a friendly associate.