TMJ Disorder and Mouth Guards

By John Meola on January 03, 2019

Digital illustration of neck and skull highlighting the TMJThe TMJs (temporomandibular joints) are two of the most complex joints in the human body. When these joints are out of alignment, it can cause jaw pain, headaches, earaches, and other symptoms.

Here, our Boston, MA team at Dental Associates of New England discusses TMJ disorder and mouth guards, explaining how these custom oral appliances can alleviate the symptoms associated with the condition.

What Is TMJ Disorder?

When seated properly, the jaw joints hold the lower jaw to the skull comfortably. When an alignment issue or other problem is present, the surrounding jaw muscles overcompensate. As a result, patients may experience pain in various areas of the body, including the face, neck, back, shoulders, and ears.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

Because each patient is unique, the symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary. However, some of the most common warning signs include:

  • Pain in or around the jaw joint
  • Orofacial pain
  • Chronic headaches
  • Earaches or tinnitus
  • Tingling in the arms, legs, fingers, or toes
  • Pain in the back, neck, or shoulders

Risks of Untreated TMJ Disorder

In some cases, TMJ issues may be short-lived. For example, the condition may develop as a stress response, and could possibly reverse once life is normal again.

In many cases, however, TMJ disorder is chronic. If left untreated, it can lead to a host of other problems.

One of the most notable dangers of untreated TMJ disorder is the risk for further dental damage. If the jaw joints are not in their proper positions, patients have a higher risk for bruxism (teeth grinding). Consequently, the teeth can become worn down, sensitive, or fractured over time.

Mouth Guards for TMJ Disorder

There are several treatments for TMJ disorder, including behavior modification, medication, and even surgery. However, one of the most successful remedies for this problem is a simple one: oral appliance therapy.

Oral appliance therapy involves the use of a custom mouth guard. This device is placed snugly over the teeth to protect them from damage and keep your jaw joints properly aligned.

This oral splint can also prevent habits such as grinding or clenching.

Depending on the specific situation, patients may wear their mouth guards at night while they sleep, or in some cases, even during the day.

Use of a custom mouth guard offers a number of advantages. For example, most patients notice a significant improvement in their comfort level. As a result, you can eat more of the foods you love without worrying about jaw pain or headaches.

To create a custom mouth guard, impressions are taken of the teeth. These are then sent to a dental lab, where a highly-trained technician will fabricate your appliance. Once your mouth guard is made, your dentist will check the fit and make any necessary adjustments.

Contact Dental Associates of New England

Are you experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder? If so, a custom mouth guard could eliminate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, call us at (781) 890-4900 or contact us online.

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