TMJ refers to the “temporomandibular joint”, which is the bone structure, muscles and connective tissue that surround the jaw joint. It controls chewing. When patients experience disorders of this joint they are said to have a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. Symptoms of TMD include pain and tenderness near the jaw joint area as well as popping or clicking in the joint when speaking or chewing. Breaking or excess wearing down of teeth may also occur. There are many ways of treating TMD disorders ranging from non-invasive therapy and bite splints to muscle relaxing treatment or surgery. Left untreated however TMD may lead to headaches, jaw and other muscle pain, as well as tooth damage.
One common TMD treatment is the Occlusal splint.
Sports Mouth Guards
Dental mouth guards have long been used to protect the teeth, gums and supporting tissues from damage, injury and trauma. There are two types of sports mouth guards – over the counter and custom made. While over the counter guards, for example, from pharmacists, are helpful for occasional use. A customized dental mouth guard fitted by a dentist reduces or prevents injury much more effectively.
Sleep Apnea Device - Snoring
Oral appliances are one of the options that can be used to treat mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnoea, as well as snoring. They are also called Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS) or Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) or Mandibular Repositioning Appliances (MRA). The appliance looks a little like a mouth guard. At night, before sleeping it is placed in the person’s mouth.
The device works by gently positioning the lower jaw forwards. The airway will then open up more, resulting in less obstruction and vibration of the pharynx (snoring) hence oxygen flow is greatly improved, this means that breathing and result
Does it need to be specially fitted for me, or is there a one size fits all oral appliance?
Each person has a different mouth and jaw shape. So a “one size fits all” is not as effective as a custom made appliance. After impressions (or moulds) are taken, the appliance usually takes 2 to 3 weeks to make. The dentist then fits the appliance with careful instructions on its use and maintenance being provided. After the appliance is fitted, follow-up visits with the dentist are important to assess and monitor the reduction in snoring and improved breathing.
An Occlusal Splint (also called a bite splint, or night guard) is a removable dental appliance carefully moulded to fit the upper or lower teeth. It is usually worn at night to reduce the amount of grinding pressure transferred to the teeth. It also offers relief for the muscles of the jaw especially around the TMJ as well as providing protection of the disc within the jaw joint.
Teeth grinding and clenching also known as Bruxism, is one major cause of TMD. It often occurs during sleep and can often go undetected. Bruxism may cause chipping of the teeth, wearing of the biting surfaces and cracks in the teeth. Often a partner or family member is first to notice the sufferers condition due to the noise associated with this grinding at certain times during the night. Early intervention is advisable.
Symptoms of teeth clenching and grinding can include:
- Aching jaws and teeth.
- Joint pain while chewing or opening mouth.
- Clicking or clunking sounds in the TMJ.
- Tension headaches and tenderness in the temple region.
- Worn, tender or sensitive teeth.
- Broken or chipped teeth.
Occlusal Splints may take a little getting used to, but most people find that within a few nights they become comfortable wearing the Splint.