What Are TMJ Splints?

Theresa Porter TMJ/Bite Splint

Professional TMJ treatment can ease the pain, stiffness, and other secondary symptoms that are associated with temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or “TMD.” One of the more common methods for treating this condition is with a TMJ splint.

TMJ splints can be worn on both upper and lower teeth like a standard mouthguard. The idea is to help improve jaw alignment and remove other TMD causes like teeth clenching and grinding.

Common TMD Symptoms

When diagnosing TMD, your dentist will perform an examination of your teeth for any signs of grinding or clenching. They will also examine how your jaw is moving to assess whether there are signs of muscular imbalance or joint dysfunction. An easy sign to spot is shifting of the jaw as you open and close your mouth, or an uneven bite when your mouth is closed completely.

The typical symptoms that patients suffering from TMD are likely to experience are pain or tenderness of the muscles around the jaw, grinding, toothache, clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw, headaches, pain when chewing, jaw locking, facial muscle spasms, and vision problems.

TMD can cause some debilitating symptoms, so fixing the issue quickly can save you a lot of stress and pain. One TMJ Treatment option that will help with all the pain is a TMJ splint.

Types of TMJ Splint

There are two broad types of TMJ splints that are available from your dentist: Permissive splints and non-permissive splints.

Permissive splints are the most common type of splint used for TMD treatment. They can be fitted to both the upper and lower teeth to limit grinding and clenching, as well as to help the muscles align your jaw joints with the sockets. Permissive splints feature smooth and flat surfaces so the teeth can move freely as the jaw closes.

Non-permissive splints are designed to reposition the jaw by limiting movement. ARAs (anterior repositioning appliances) and MORAs (mandibular orthotic repositioning appliances) are examples of non-permissive splints that are used to force the jawbone into a forward position when the mouth is closed.

It is worth noting that some organizations, such as the national institute of dental and cranial research, state that splints should not cause permanent changes to the bite. Therefore, permissive splints are a general recommendation.

Benefits of a TMJ Splint

Wearing a TMJ splint can help to reduce some of the issues that are causing joint dysfunction by improving jaw alignment, reducing tension on the facial muscles, and providing a cushioned surface between your teeth. It may take some time for your mouth to adjust, but, when it does, here are the benefits that can be experienced:

  • Reduced teeth clenching and grinding as a result of the cushioning. It’s harder to damage your teeth with something preventing them from touching.
  • Less muscle tension and pressure, which will reduce tension headaches, earaches, and jaw tenderness.
  • Clearer airways for improved breathing resulting from better jaw alignment.
  • Prevents teeth damage and wear.
  • Improved appearance due to an even bite and jaw position.

TMJ Dysfunction Treatment

The first step on your path to treating TMJ dysfunction is to visit a dentist who is experienced with the problem to get a thorough diagnosis. After an examination, an individual treatment plan can be designed.

After a close analysis with Dr. Scott Owens at Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, our TMJ treatment plans may include customized splints, mouthguards, physical therapy, posture training, and diet modification.

To get your treatment underway, and alleviate TMJ pain, schedule an appointment with us today.

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