Splints Relieve TMJ Symptoms
Are you one of the millions of people who suffer from headaches, dizziness, or other symptoms caused by TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome? Maybe we can help. Various types of clear plastic splints can be used to treat TMJ syndrome. A bruxism splint, worn mostly at night, keeps you from grinding your teeth and helps reduce muscle tension. It does not treat the cause of the TMJ symptoms but only allows you to grind against it at night instead of grinding against your base teeth. You wear down the appliance instead of your teeth. This is the common “night guard” made by most dentists and is a low level, minimal treatment approach. A repositioning appliance is worn 24 hours a day to move the dislocated parts of your jaw joint into alignment and allow the joints to heal in their normal anatomical position. A stabilization appliance, also worn 24 hours a day, relaxes your muscles around the jaw joints and attempts to stabilize shifting teeth and changing bite caused by the TMJ problem. It is effective only as long as it is worn and does not attempt to treat the cause of instability.
Your splint will be custom fitted from impressions of your teeth, to make it as comfortable as possible; and it will not cover the front of your teeth, to make it invisible. You may need to wear a splint for three to twelve months or longer. During that time, we’ll adjust the fit as your jaw posture changes.
Since the teeth, jaw joints, and muscles can all be involved, treatment for this condition varies with the specific problems you have. Treatment will involve several phases. The first goal is to relieve the muscle spasm and pain, and restore the dislocated disc with in the jaw joint to its normal anatomical position. Then, your dentist must correct the way the teeth fit together. Often a temporary device (known as an orthotic, or “splint”) is worn over the lower teeth until the jaw joint is stabilized. Dr. Griffiths typically uses various types of splints that are comfortably worn and not visible to an observer in the first stage of your treatment. Once the jaw joint are fixed your treatment advances into the second stage of bite correction so the splint will no linger have to be worn. Permanent correction of your bite may involve selective re-shaping of the teeth, building crowns on the teeth, orthodontics, or a permanent appliance to lay over the teeth. If the jaw joint itself is damaged, it must be specifically treated. Though infrequent, surgery is sometimes required to correct a damaged joint. Ultimately, your specialist will stabilize your bite so that the teeth, muscles, and joints all work together without strain. The important aim of correcting your bite is to insure optimal long-term health. If you have any of the signs or symptoms mentioned, discuss them with your dentist. Your health is your most priceless possession. It is worth the investment!