How Do Dental Splints Help Relieve TMJ Disorder?

Millions of people worldwide suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD), many of which don’t realize that the TMJ is causing or contributing to their discomfort. With the proper treatment from a dentist at our Calgary clinic, we can restore harmony to your TMJ.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex and frequently used joints in the body. The TMJ allows your bottom jaw to move, so every time you talk, chew or swallow you are using the TMJs on either side of your head.

The TMJ affects many aspects of your body, particularly the musculoskeletal system.

Some symptoms of TMD, or temporomandibular disorder, are:

  • Jaw pain/pain in the TMJ
  • Clicking of the TMJ
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Pain or problems when chewing
  • Headaches, ear or eye aches
  • Sore neck muscles / tight shoulder muscles
  • Tooth wear
  • Mobility of your teeth

Dental splints are the most common dental treatment for temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs). These splints are used to alleviate the pressure on the joint while other corrective treatments are employed.

Dental splints, also called occlusal splints, include clear acrylic bite plates and mouth guards that fit over your teeth, both upper and lower. Splints are typically made of hard acrylic resin and are made in a dental lab. They are molded from an impression of your teeth that your dentist will take. Once the splint is made, your dentist will fit and readjust it specifically to where your jaw joint (TMJ), jaw muscles and teeth are held in harmony. Your dentist will expect you to wear it at the recommended times (all day, only at night, both) and to follow up regularly with them to check on progress.

Dental splints can help ease muscle tension and stabilize the jaw. They do this by reducing the force of grinding and clenching of the jaw (bruxism) that might be causing muscle tension and pain.

Splints are worn mostly at night because people tend to clench or grind their teeth during sleep when they are unaware they are doing it. It’s tough to stop a behaviour if you aren’t aware you are doing it, so this is where the splint is very helpful.

Splints treatment can help with the following issues:

  • Headaches and stiff or sore neck muscles
  • Clenching and grinding of your teeth (bruxism)
  • Protecting any dental work you may have (veneers, dental implants, dental crowns)
  • Improving the alignment of your jaw and relieving pressure on your TMJ
  • Helping you sleep

Many people who have TMD’s find splints treatment helpful for treating their discomfort and reducing symptoms. If you are struggling with jaw tension, headaches, sore muscles or any of the other symptoms of TMD, book a visit to your dentist to find out if you may need a treatment plan that could include a dental splint. Your dentist will decide if referral to our medical team including physiotherapists, oral surgeons or a doctor may be necessary to ensure the health of your jaw joint.