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How do I Choose the Best TMJ Appliance?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill

There is no way for you to choose the best temporal mandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) device without knowing exactly what is causing your jaw pain, and you should always speak with your dentist before choosing a TMJ appliance. Using a device that is not intended for this purpose could result in more injury and pain to the jaw. Your dentist or oral health specialist will help you get fitted for a device which will work for your individual situation.

Several options are available when choosing a TMJ appliance. Plates or guards worn at the top of the mouth are popular options, although there is some debate on how well these things work. They may help prevent teeth grinding and clenching, which can both make TMJ pain worse, but they do not cure the condition itself. For that, you will need a specially fitted device.

A person with TMJ.
A person with TMJ.

The most effective TMJ appliance is a splint that slowly shifts the jaw line into a proper position. TMJ is a condition which can cause pain and a cracking sound in the jaw, along with headaches and sleep problems. It is often due to a jaw that is not properly aligned. By stretching the joints on each side and slowly moving the top and bottom portions into position, pain can be alleviated.

Mouth guards may help prevent teeth grinding.
Mouth guards may help prevent teeth grinding.

A splint fits over the teeth on the top and bottom and applies even pressure to alleviate pain and slowly shift the jaw. Sometimes it may hold the mouth slightly ajar. The exact appearance and fitting of your device will depend on your individual jaw and the severity of your condition. Many are clear and are discreet for everyday wear.

You will have to be professionally fitted for a splint to ensure that is fits your mouth perfectly. Sometimes they have to be readjusted several times for the optimum benefit. Ill-fitted appliances may not get rid of pain, or they may cause additional discomfort. If you have issues with your splint after several months, contact your doctor for a readjustment.

There are things which may impact the effectiveness of any TMJ appliance. For one, any device not specifically designed for this condition will not work properly. Also, you will need to wear a splint at all prescribed times for it to be effective. Failure to do so will result in continued symptoms and problems.

If you continue to have problems even after your TMJ appliance has been adjusted, you may be wearing the wrong type of appliance, or you may have a problem other than TMJ. Speak with your dentist or orthodontist about additional treatment options, or get a second opinion with someone who specializes in TMJ or jaw conditions. Occasionally, another problem may be the cause of your discomfort, and additional treatments may be needed.

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    • A person with TMJ.
      By: sakura
      A person with TMJ.
    • Mouth guards may help prevent teeth grinding.
      By: Nomad_Soul
      Mouth guards may help prevent teeth grinding.