Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Are Bite Guards an Effective Treatment for TMJ Disorder?

How to Stop TMJ Pain in its Tracks

In the United States alone, over 10 million people suffer from temporomandibular joint pain, or TMJ. Your temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull, so the pain can impact daily activities most people take for granted, such as talking or eating. TMJ pain has a wide-ranging list of causes, from jaw injuries to teeth grinding.

If you have TMJ pain, know that there is a good chance that it is treatable. Bite guards often do the trick without resorting to surgery.

Bite Guards Can Both Diagnose and Treat TMJ Pain

Bite guards, also known as "night guards" or "stabilization splint," are dental devices that fit over your lower or your upper row of teeth. They help dentists to both diagnose and treat TMJ disorders. If your dentist suspects TMJ pain, he or she may prescribe a guard to see if it might relieve the pain. If they do, your dentist will diagnose TMJ pain and continue the treatment with bite guards. If the bite guards do not relieve your pain, your dentist may try other kinds of splints to find a solution.

How Do Bite Guards Work?

Bite guards create a separation between your teeth. If your TMJ pain is caused by teeth grinding or clenching, these stabilization splints can solve the problem. They also stabilize your jaw, which helps you to heal if your TMJ disorder was caused by an injury to your jaw.

Many patients, particularly those with mild jaw injuries, teeth clenching, or teeth grinding, find relief through bite guards. For those with more complicated cases, however, there are other remedies.

Alternative Treatments for TMJ Disorders

Before you consider surgery, try some of the many alternative treatments before going under the knife. Surgery is irreversible, while most of these other treatments are 100 percent reversible.

Prescription medications: Muscle relaxants, sedatives, and prescription pain relievers often work when bite guards fail.

Physical therapy: Often physical therapy programs designed to stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles can give you relief from your TMJ symptoms. Applying heat and ice can also provide relief in many patients.

Botox injections: If yours is a particularly stubborn case, you may ask your dentist if Botox is an option for you. Some TMJ patients have found relief through these injections.

Change eating patterns: Many patients with TMJ find that eating smaller pieces of food, eating softer foods, and avoiding chewy, sticky, and hard foods helps alleviate their symptoms.

There have been cases in which patients recover from TMJ disorders with no treatment at all.

Because TMJ disorders can be debilitating, see your dentist as soon as possible as soon as you develop symptoms. Don't wait until your symptoms become severe. Contact your dentist today.

The Kanehl Dental Group, P.A. is a world class practice that delivers state-of-the-art dentistry. We are one of Jacksonville Florida's leading dental practices that focuses on TMJ treatment, sleep apnea treatment, cosmetic dentistry, periodontal disease treatment, and diabetic dentistry.
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