What is a TMJ Mouth Splint?

TMJ mouth splint

TMJ disorder is a common condition that affects your temporomandibular joints. These joints are the hinge joints that connect your skull to your jawbone. It is common for them to make clicking or popping sounds from time to time. For some people, it can be painful and even cause their jaw to lock in place. In cases like these, a dentist may recommend a TMJ mouth splint as a treatment option. 

At Dental on York, we have a lot of experience in helping patients’ manage their TMJ disorder. In this article, we discuss the different types of splints and how they can be beneficial. 

What is a TMJ mouth splint? 

A TMJ mouth splint is a removable mouthguard specially made from a tough acrylic resin. TMJ splints are custom made in dental labs to suit each individual patient’s needs. A TMJ splint aims to improve jaw alignment and help ease other TMJ disorder symptoms such as clenching and grinding. 

The splint may be worn on either the upper, lower or both sets of teeth. Your dentist will determine this and how often you should wear it/them. It is important to have your dentist monitor your progress with your TMJ mouth splint. . If it is causing you discomfort or increasing other symptoms you should stop wearing it and seek other treatment. 

What are the common types of TMJ mouth splints?

There are many different types of splints, each designed for a slightly different purpose. Your dentist will be able to advise you on the best choice for your particular symptoms. Below we discuss four options:

Over the counter

This is a type of cheap occlusal splint that is sold over the counter in pharmacies. You may also find different versions of them online. They are made from a material that is designed to soften when warmed. You then mould the splint to fit over your teeth. Dentists will not commonly recommend this type, as it is difficult to get an exact fit. They can also cause permanent changes to your bite which is not the purpose of a TMJ mouth splint. It is best to speak to your dentist if you are thinking about purchasing one. 

Essix

These are commonly recommended for people with mild TMJ disorder. They are hard, clear retainers that are used to protect your teeth from mild symptoms. Even though they are custom made they are still relatively inexpensive. They are also light and comfortable to wear which makes them a popular choice. However, if you suffer from severe teeth grinding this may not be the right option for you.

Custom flat plane bite splint

This is a customised splint that is used to treat more severe cases of TMJ disorder. They are made from a thick material that is designed to protect your teeth from clenching and grinding. It is usually only worn at night. This type of splint avoids the issues that an over-the-counter option may cause.

Removable neuromuscular orthotic 

This is an anatomically correct splint made using the latest in dental technology. This type of splint is designed to take away the pain and dysfunction caused by TMJ disorder. It also protects your teeth from the effects of TMJ disorder. The orthotic is removable, meaning you can choose to wear it all the time (even when eating) or remove it. Your dentist will closely track your progress in this splint. 

How is a TMJ mouth splint beneficial?

TMJ splints provide a cushioned surface between your teeth. The different types help with different issues. A dentist can recommend which is right for you. Sometimes, your new TMJ mouth splint can take a bit of getting used to. Some benefits to expect from wearing your splint are:

  • Reduction in clenching and grinding: this is because the cushioned surface prevents the top and bottom rows from touching. 
  • Less facial muscle tension: which may reduce headaches, earaches and jaw tenderness. 
  • Clearer airways: because it alters the way your jaw sits whilst sleeping this can benefit your breathing and/or snoring. 
  • Prevent damage to teeth: grinding can cause significant damage to your teeth. The splint prevents this, especially during the night when you grind your teeth subconsciously. 
  • Improved facial symmetry: due to a more even bite and improved jaw position.

Consult your dentist

TMJ mouth splints are not suitable for everyone. It is important to consult your dentist about the different treatment options available. If a splint is decided on, they will be able to recommend which type will suit you. At Dental on York, we are the professionals you can trust when it comes to treating TMJ disorder. 

Give us a call to book in for a consultation today. 

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