TMJ (the temporomandibular joint) connects your jaw to your skull. This joint is in front of your ear and usually operates smoothly without clicking or pain. However, for those with TMD (temporomandibular disorder), this joint can be inflamed or cause constant pain. TMD can lead to clicking in the jaw, jaw locking, pain while chewing, and more. Some warning signs of TMJ include ringing in the ears, jaw stiffness, pain while chewing or in the jaw joint, changes in how teeth fit together, and more. In this article, we discuss what causes TMD, and how an oral appliance for TMJ may aid in its treatment.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
While several factors can contribute to TMD, there is no single cause. TMD can be caused by bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), arthritis, injury, and more. However, these conditions do not always lead to TMJ. There are many cases of bruxism and arthritis that do not lead to TMD, but in most cases, treatment focuses on relieving stress on the jaw joint and helping your jaw relax.
How Does a TMJ Appliance Help TMD?
One of the more common treatment options for TMD is a TMJ appliance. Dentists specially make these oral appliances to help relieve pressure on your jaw joint and prevent jaw strain while you sleep or during the day. Not only can TMJ appliances help protect your joints, but they can also stave off teeth wear caused by clenching and grinding your teeth. TMJ appliances are either glides, made to reduce the wear on your teeth, or splints, which keep you from moving your jaw.
TMJ appliances are made from acrylic resin and are molded to fit your teeth. Not only will your dentist custom make your oral appliance for you, but they will also perform regular checkups to ensure your TMJ appliance is properly helping your condition. Remember that a TMJ appliance is made to alleviate pain and should not cause a significant change in your bite alignment, nor should it cause additional pain. If either of these things occurs, contact your dental office immediately.
How Long Does It Take a TMJ Appliance to Work?
Depending on the severity of your TMD, it may take a while to see results with your TMJ appliance. Discuss your treatment duration with your dentist and attend follow-up appointments to ensure the device is helping. You can also work on jaw relaxation techniques to help ease jaw stress during this time, and be sure to avoid chewy or tough foods that can strain your jaw.
If you are interested in learning more about TMJ oral appliances or want to make an appointment, contact our office today by calling (972) 432-8811. Our team of trained dental professionals can answer any questions you may have and start you on the path toward TMD relief today. No matter your dental need, here at Coolbreeze Dentistry, we pride ourselves on offering convenient, comfortable dental care to all our clients and look forward to helping you on your dental treatment journey.