Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ syndrome) is an inflammation of the ligaments, bones, discs, and muscles that connect the jawbone to the skull. The inflammation results in chronic facial pain around the cheek and lower jaw; locked jaw; severe headaches, toothaches, and neck aches; and hearing loss, dizziness, and ear aches.
One possible treatment for TMJ is the use of night guards. Night guards are plastic bite guards that allow your teeth to sit in a proper position while you sleep. It allows your TMJ muscles to relax and stretch, while preventing overactive clenching or grinding through the night. Night guards, also called stabilization splints, provide pain relief and preventing further damage to your teeth.
Night guards come in two basic varieties: a soft, chewy version and a hard type made from acrylic. Soft night guards are commonly chosen for their comfort—the soft surfaces make wearing them a little easier to bear at first. For patients with mild pain or in the early stages of TMJ syndrome, this might be a workable solution. However soft guards tend to wear out faster.
Hard guards are a more permanent (albeit more expensive) solution. Hard guards last longer, provider stronger support for your teeth and jaw, and discourage grinding more effectively. Severe TMJ syndrome and people who require more urgent TMJ treatment will likely require a hard guard, as they offer less margin for jaw activity and teeth movement while you sleep.
Both types of night guards are available at the dental office of Ladera Family Dentists. If you’re considering night guards to treat TMJ, contact us online or call (949) 531-7225 for a free consultation.