ATM mouth guards are a form of night braces.
Joint and muscle disorders that affect the jaw joint cause pain, locking or abnormal noises.
Studies show that these disorders are common, with about 5% of the population requiring treatment.
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What is a temporomandibular joint (TMJ)?
A temporo-mandibular or TMJ connects the lower jaw, called the mandible, to the bone on the side of the head: the temporal bone. Jaw movements are made possible by both the jaw muscles and the jaw joint which allow for forward and backward movements as well as rotational movements. The TMJ is a complex joint and is unique among all the joints in the human body.
What are the different temporomandibular joint disorders?
Problems that occur with TMJ can be categorised into 3 groups:
- Muscle disorders in the form of pain, stiffness, or spasms.
- Joint disorders in the form of joint damage, incoordination, or blockages.
- Arthritis, which is an inflammatory and degenerative disorder of the joint.
These different disorders are independent but can also occur together in the same person.
What are the causes of TMJ disorders?
Bruxism, clenching of the jaw, excessive chewing (chewing gum) or shock can all be causes of joint or muscle disorders. Stress is often blamed. It causes muscle tension and changes in pain perception.
Because the disorders are more frequent in women than in men, a hormonal origin is sought by scientists.
Some clinicians have thought that poor dental contact or orthodontic treatment can lead to TMDs, but scientific research results dispute this belief.
What should you do if you are in pain?
In case of discomfort, blockage or pain, the first things to do are:
- Eat soft foods
- Avoid extreme, sudden or forced movements
- Avoid clenching the jaw by placing the tongue between the teeth
- Learn to relax with a controlled breathing technique
- Apply ice for severe pain or a warm compress for stabbing pain
- Take a painkiller
What to do in the case of temporomandibular disorder?
If the disorder is a recent occurrence, remember that TMDs are usually mild disorders which fade with time, and apply the "first aid" methods described above.
Joint noises are generally benign. They are stable or diminish over time and do not require treatment.
If a problem persists for more than a few weeks, or if it is disabling (locking of the jaw), it is best to seek advice from your dentist. Local treatment can be effective.
If it is a "chronic" pain, i.e. a pain that has lasted for more than six months, then it may be of complex origin. Your dentist will be able to relieve your joint with local methods, but these may not be sufficient.
Dental discomfort, such as excessive jaw clenching, can cause changes in dental alignment. This discomfort will disappear after the disorder has been managed too.
What will the dentist do?
The practitioner may prescribe, if necessary:
- Medication: prescription painkillers to relieve pain, anti-inflammatory drugs for joint inflammation and, if necessary, muscle relaxants to relax the muscles.
- X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.
- Physiotherapy: suitable exercises to be performed at home or a prescription for follow-up by a physiotherapist.
- Orthotics: Orthotics or "aligners" are made of plastic and cover the teeth. This method is contested, but they are "efficient", i.e. they have a positive effect on symptoms. There are different types of braces.
- Surgery: Surgical treatments have not yet proven to be effective. However, if there is joint inflammation or arthritis, your practitioner may prescribe an operation to clean the joint with a surgical probe.
- Botulinum toxin: An intramuscular injection of botulinum toxin (Botox) restores the balance between the lowering and raising muscles of the jaw and reduces the force of contraction of the muscles of the manducatory apparatus. As with any aesthetic medical procedure, the result of a botulinum toxin treatment for bruxism is not definitive. It is necessary to receive future injections to ensure that the desired result lasts, on average every 6 months.
How do mouth guard or splints work?
Mouth guards are night retainers for people who tend to clench their jaws or grind their teeth while they sleep. They are usually made of resin or plastic, and are custom-made by your dentist from impressions of your teeth. They are then made by a dental technician and are therefore perfectly fitted and moulded for each patient.
Thermoformed mouth guards remain adjusted to the shape of the teeth after being heated. They adapt to the teeth's contacts and occlusion, absorb excessive clenching forces and relax the masticatory muscles. It is advisable to wear them for several months and to combine them with relaxation exercises.
The TMJ mouthpiece is sometimes confused with the anti-snoring orthosis or the mouthguard, which protects the teeth during violent sports. The difference is the precision of adjustment of the mouthpiece to the teeth, its small thickness and its therapeutic action.
Please contact us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (+34 932 529 729), if you need more information. We will be happy to give you any additional information.
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