Often patients who grind their teeth at night are unaware of their habit, but the forces exerted on both the teeth and the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) can be quite destructive. A custom‐made night guard can protect the teeth and relieve pressure on the TMJ.
Many patients use this acronym to refer to the painful symptoms related to Temporomandibular Joint dysfunction. Symptoms may include pain in the joint itself, pain in the muscles of mastication and limited movement of the lower jaw.
If you have recently noticed an increase in these symptoms, these are signs of potential negative changes in your condition:
- Inability to open wide when eating
- Your jaw gets stuck open when yawning or eating
- Chronic Daily or Morning time Headaches in the Temporal Area or Cheek area of your head and face
- Pain when chewing
- Increased frequency of Popping or Clicking in your ear
TMJ Treatment and Appliances :
There are more types of TMJ appliances out there than I can list on this site. They all claim to improve or eliminate TMJ symptoms. So which one is right for you? The best way to describe my thought process for selecting an appliance for a patient is as follows:
- A comprehensive TMJ Exam must be performed to determine if the primary symptoms are resulting from a problem in the Temporomandibular Joint, a problem with the Muscles you chew with, or a combination of both factors.
- Once we determine the primary etiology of your disorder, the appropriate appliance is selected to treat the underlying cause of your problem. Different appliances treat different disorders.
I frequently use appliances such as an Anterior Bite Plane, NTI, and Full Coverage Splints.
Anterior Bite PlaneAn Anterior Bite Plane works by only allowing the front teeth to contact, and eliminating the directive forces that happen when the back teeth close together. This is a common appliance used to treat patients whose primary symptom etiology is Muscle Pain. This appliance is intended only for wear up to 8 hours a day. It is not for constant, continuous wear.
A NTI appliance works similar to an Anterior Bite Plane by only allowing the front teeth to touch, and eliminating the directive forces causes when the back teeth touch. The advantages of the NTI is that it is a smaller appliance than an Anterior Bite Plane. It is designed only for wear up to 8 hours a day. Again, this appliance is not for constant daily wear.
Full Coverage Splints
Full Coverage Occlusal Splints are used primarily to treat disorders originating in the Temporomandibular Joint itself. The basic idea of a splint is that it re-creates an ideal "bite" for your mouth without modifying or changing the teeth. By creating an ideal "bite", this allows the muscles to relax and stop postural contractions. This results in the Temporomandibular Joint moving back to its regular, ideal position. Once this happens, we usually see the following results:
- Decrease in Temporal or Cheek Muscle Pain.
- Decrease in incidence of Popping or Clicking.
- Decrease in pain during chewing or eating.
A full coverage splint can be worn constantly or only at night time. The frequency in which you wear the appliance is initially based upon the severity and frequency of your jaw pain.