Treating TMJ Disorder with Mouthguards
Temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly called TMJ disorder, can make daily activities, like eating and talking, painful and even cause headaches and neck pain. Treating TMJ disorder begins with diagnosis to determine the cause and severity of the disorder. At Dr. Tim Kelly’s cosmetic dentistry practice in Albuquerque, he uses state of the art diagnostic tools to provide patients accurate, personalized treatment. Many patients have found TMJ relief from custom-fitted mouthguards, while others have benefited from alternative treatments. To find out which treatment is right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kelly.
What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder is a condition in which the joint connecting the jawbone to the skull, the temporomandibular joint, does not fit together properly. This can put a great deal of stress on the joint, causing joint pain and even pain of the surrounding muscles. For some, TMJ disorder may only be noticeable while eating; for others the pain can be constant, manifesting in tension headaches and shoulder and neck pain. Some common causes of TMJ disorder include malocclusion, also called a “bad bite,” habitual teeth grinding, or constant teeth clenching. Some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Clicking sound when the jaw moves
- Grinding feeling when the jaw moves
- Difficulty moving the jaw
- Locking of the jaw
- Jaw pain
- Constant, dull headaches
- Neck or shoulder muscle pain
Using Mouthguards to Alleviate TMJ Disorder Symptoms
Relieving TMJ disorder symptoms begins with diagnosing the cause and severity of the condition. However, mouthguards have proven beneficial to many TMJ disorder sufferers. One of the main causes of TMJ symptoms is stress and tension on the temporomandibular joint. Mouthguards help relieve this tension by preventing teeth clenching or grinding. Mouthguards can also keep the jaw aligned, alleviating TMJ disorder symptoms caused by misalignment.
When it comes to finding the right mouthguard for treating TMJ disorder, it is important to seek professional dental help. Store bought mouthguards can be a poor fit and make symptoms worse. Custom-made mouthguards are the best option, as they are molded to each patient's teeth for a comfortable fit. Typically, mouthguards are worn while sleeping since sleep is when most teeth clenching and grinding occurs. Once you've received a custom-fitted mouthguard, you will be given instructions specific to your treatment needs.
For some, mouthguards alone may not be enough to provide full relief from TMJ disorder. Fortunately, there are alternative treatments that can be useful in relieving TMJ pain. These alternative treatments can also be used in combination with mouthguard treatment to improve results.
- Jaw Exercises and Stretching: Strengthening the jaw muscle through jaw exercises and stretching can help reduce TMJ disorder symptoms. Consult your dentist to find out which exercises are best for your symptoms.
- Reduce Stress: Stress can cause teeth clenching, a major cause of TMJ disorder. Reduce stress by practicing calming activities like yoga, meditation, or reading.
- Orthodontics: Orthodontics may be helpful for those who have TMJ disorder as a result of malocclusion.
Schedule a Consultation
To learn more about treatments to relieve TMJ disorder, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kelly.