A mouth guard for jaw pain is one of the dental appliances a dentist may recommend. Jaw pain could be a result of clenching and grinding of teeth at night. Dentists refer to this activity as bruxism. As a result of prolonged grinding or clenching, it can damage the teeth and the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the lower jaw to our skull. On the other hand, a mouthguard doesn’t work for jaw pain only. It can also serve as equipment to prevent dental injuries, brought about by sports accidents and mishaps. Let us find out more details about how mouthguards can help address someone’s jaw pain or discomfort and other mouth issues.
What is a Night Guard?
Jaw pain can occur because of several reasons. It can be from teeth grinding, jaw clenching, trauma or injury, and existing TMJ disorder. These causes can lead to painful situations, also radiating as headaches, earaches, and jaw pain. There are some worse instances that the damage becomes worse and causes jaw bone infection.
Dentists often recommend dental mouth guards to protect the teeth, joints and help ease the pain. They also refer to dental mouth guards as splints, oral appliances, or night guards. However, not all night guards are the same. A patient needs to consult the dentist to find the right match for their dental requirement.
Grinding or clenching your teeth at night can become excessive. It could be a result of stress and anxiety, antidepressants, smoking, or alcohol use. Some cases may also occur as a behavior coming from the central nervous system. It is beyond our control.
A temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is one of the typical causes of why a person may experience pain, headaches, or earaches. This disorder is pretty complex to diagnose and treat. Moreover, the dentist or doctor has to determine the cause of the TMJ pain to know what treatment can help. Aside from TMJ pain, other symptoms also signify TMJ disorder, such as the following.
- jaw clicking
- popping sounds in the ears
- stiff or sore jaw muscles
- pain in the temple area
- locking of jaw joint
- a pain you feel in the neck
Causes of TMJ Disorder
A patient may experience this disorder because of the following causes.
- teeth misalignment (malocclusion)
- clenching and grinding your teeth
- poor posture
- stress or anxiety
- arthritis and other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders
- orthodontic treatment
- excessive gum chewing
- other improper dental habits
The causes of TMJ pain can vary from one person to another. Aside from that, the severity of the condition differs as well. For this reason, the patient has to let a doctor or a dentist make their diagnosis. This way, they can recommend the most appropriate treatment for their dental health.
Doctors Addressing TMJ
A primary health care provider may initially diagnose TMJ. From this diagnosis, they will know if your condition requires the help of an oral and maxillofacial specialist, an otolaryngologist, or a dentist specializing in jaw disorders.
Additionally, you may also need to receive treatment for pain management. In actuality, our overall health requires proper care to maintain it excellently. Healthcare providers are here to help us in achieving this excellent condition. For example, you may book an appointment today at Omnicare Medical if you have TMJ pain or other health issues that need the best professionals to address them.
So, if you want to consult a dental professional for your dental needs that are somehow related to a medical condition, please do so. We all want to receive the best treatment as much as possible. Doctors or dentists addressing TMJ aim to provide relief from this painful experience.
Night Guard for TMJ
First and foremost, let’s discuss the mouth guard for TMJ. A night guard often fits over the upper teeth. Meanwhile, there are models of mouth guards that patients will place on their lower teeth instead. A mouth guard is available in different materials as well.
Some patients experiencing TMJ pain use a mouth guard at night only. However, for severe cases of grinding and clenching, they will also need to wear it in the daytime. On the positive side, these kinds of mouthguards not only treat bruxism or TMJ disorders. It can also help with sleep apnea.
Additionally, a mouth guard is available as one size fits all, which you can buy over the counter. These are often using soft materials. On the other hand, other patients choose to have custom models available at a dentist’s office.
How to Care for the Mouth Guard
Whatever device we use to address our oral concerns, we have to know the proper way to care for them. Aside from that, we need to ensure its cleanliness, knowing that we will place it inside the mouth. It will be the same way on how we clean our teeth.
Brushing the mouthguard using toothpaste or antibacterial soap can help. It is essential to clean the mouthguard wholly, inside and out. Similarly, tartar can also build up in a mouthguard. For this reason, we need to practice proper dental hygiene.
Additionally, it would be best to bring your mouthguard when you visit your dental provider. This way, your dentist can also check your device. One of the checkpoints is the bite. They have to confirm if there are also signs of wearing.
Dentistry also offers cleaning mouthguards using an ultrasonic machine. A professional dental cleaning can help extend the lifespan of the dental device you wear. Overall, dentistry helps patients achieve excellent dental health conditions.
Other Treatment Options for TMJ
Aside from mouthguards, the following can also help address TMJ.
1 Self-care and Lifestyle Changes
Most cases of mild to moderate TMJ can improve with the help of self-care practices and lifestyle changes. One of these is the reduction of jaw movement. Gentle jaw exercises can also help to alleviate pain from TMJ disorder.
2 Treating Existing Conditions
An individual can also have pre-existing conditions that they need to address. Earlier, we already mentioned teeth grinding. Others could be degenerative conditions. Steroid injections may help.
This option applies to extreme cases of TMD. Fortunately, this treatment rarely happens to anyone.
Should You Use a Dental Mouthguard for Your Jaw Pain?, Clevelandclinic.org, April 29, 2021, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/should-you-use-a-dental-mouthguard-for-your-jaw-pain/
Everything you need to know about TMJ disorders, Alice Porter, Medically reviewed by Christine Frank, DDS, May 31, 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317706