Occlusal Splints and TMJ

We are dedicated to helping our patients achieve the dental health they deserve. We will go the extra mile to provide exceptional dental care, including helping our patients with common disorders such as teeth grinding and TMJ.

Do you grind your teeth at night?

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common condition that affects both adults and children. It occurs when a person grinds or clenches their teeth, usually while they’re sleeping. In many cases, the person does not even know that they are doing it until their parent or partner mentions it.

Although you are not likely to hear the actual grinding of your teeth, there are several other symptoms that you may notice including morning headaches, earaches, and sore jaw muscles.

occlusal splints

Treatments for teeth grinding

If you think or know that you are grinding your teeth, your first step should be to see the dentist. Our experienced staff will evaluate your teeth and look for wear and tear that is often caused by bruxism.

We may prescribe an occlusal splint, also known as a night guard, bite plate, or talon splint. This plastic device comes in many different designs and is worn over teeth while sleeping to reduce the wear and tear on teeth. It is custom-made to fit the specific contours of your mouth so that it is as comfortable as possible to wear.

If the dentist identifies significant damage to your teeth caused by grinding, you may require some form of cosmetic surgery to restore your teeth to their original condition.

Why teeth grinding should be treated

If not dealt with properly, teeth grinding can loosen or crack your teeth and, in rare cases, cause tooth loss. Untreated, this condition can also cause damage to your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) in your jaw.

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (one in front of each ear) connects the jaw to the skull. Damage to this joint is called TMJ syndrome or disorder and it can cause pain and discomfort, restricting jaw movement.

TMJ disorder is fairly common and may be caused by jaw clenching and teeth grinding, an injury, dental issues such as an uneven bite, or other diseases like gout or arthritis.

Symptoms of TMJ

Signs of TMJ disorder may include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness/jaw clicking and popping
  • Earache or popping sounds in ears
  • Chewing discomfort or pain
  • Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close the mouth
  • Headaches or pain in the temple area

Can TMJ be treated?

Fortunately, TMJ responds well to home remedies. You can try the following to relieve the symptoms of TMJ:

  • Using an ice pack to the jaw
  • Over-the-counter pain relief
  • Avoiding chewing gum
  • Eating soft food and cutting food into small pieces
  • Gentle massages to the jaw area
  • Employing relaxation techniques to relieve stress
  • Wearing occlusal splints or night guards at night to prevent jaw clenching and teeth grinding

If these do not work, the dentist may recommend prescription medication, cosmetic injections, physical therapy, and in rare cases, surgery.

We take a “no surprises” approach and our trustworthy team will always give you clear explanations about your options before drawing up a treatment plan suited to your unique needs.

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