Do you suffer from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder and experience constant jaw pain or headaches? Are you wondering if a mouth guard could be the solution to your discomfort? Choosing the right mouth guard for TMJ can make a world of difference in managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life. In this blog post, we’ll explore the best mouth guard options available for TMJ and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. Let’s dive in and find relief together!
1. Introduction to Over-the-Counter Mouth Guards for Teeth Grinding
Over-the-counter mouth guards are a great solution for teeth grinding or bruxism. Teeth grinding can occur during the day or at night, and ignoring it can lead to serious oral issues. This condition can cause facial or jaw pain, worn-down teeth, loss of enamel, tooth sensitivity, and an increased risk of cavities. To prevent these problems, an over-the-counter mouth guard can be used as a short-term solution for two weeks to a month.
These guards cover the upper or lower teeth to prevent them from touching. The best part is that one can easily use them by putting them in hot water for a few seconds to soften. After that, biting into the mold will create a semi-custom-fitted guard. In fact, microwaveable guards are more comfortable, easier to mold, and preferable by board-certified and orofacial-pain specialists. However, it is important to buy a mouth guard that covers all teeth for safety reasons, as there is less chance of teeth shifting in the long-term.
2. Short-term Use of OTC Mouth Guards
When it comes to teeth grinding or bruxism, ignoring it won’t make it go away and can lead to serious oral issues, according to dentists. But over-the-counter (OTC) mouth guards may help in the short-term, lasting up to two weeks to a month. To use an OTC mouth guard, just put it in hot water to soften, bite into it, and trim the excess material when it sets. Some OTC options even have microwave and bite technology for added convenience.
It’s important to note that not all mouth guards are created equal. Some cover all teeth, while others cover just the back teeth, called partial mouth guards. Experts recommend the former since it is safer as there is less chance of teeth shifting long-term. Additionally, mouth guards should be designed to fit either the upper or lower teeth, depending on preference and best fit.
3. How to Use OTC Mouth Guards
OTC mouth guards are a helpful short-term solution for teeth grinding and TMJ pain. To use them, it only takes a few simple steps. You just need to put the product in hot water to soften and bite into it, so it takes the shape of your teeth. Some options also have microwave and bite technology, which makes them more moldable and comfortable. The goal is to choose a mouth guard that fits snugly and covers your teeth to prevent them from touching.
When searching for a mouth guard, you will come across both full-coverage and partial-coverage options. Full-coverage guards are generally safer as they prevent your teeth from shifting, which can lead to more oral issues over time. Teeth keep growing unless they touch something, and wearing partial mouth guards could potentially cause your teeth to shift. However, there are some cases, like during orthodontic treatment, where partial mouth guards may be more appropriate. It is best to consult with your dentist to determine which type of mouthguard is suitable for your needs.
4. Coverage Options for Mouth Guards
When it comes to choosing a mouth guard for TMJ, one important factor to consider is the coverage options. There are two types of coverage: full and partial.
Full coverage mouth guards cover both the upper and lower teeth, providing maximum protection against teeth grinding and clenching. These types of mouth guards are recommended for long-term use as they offer the best fit and stability for the teeth, reducing the risk of teeth shifting. However, they may not be as comfortable as partial mouth guards for some people.
Partial mouth guards, on the other hand, only cover the back teeth. These types of mouth guards are recommended for individuals with a specific diagnosis that requires a partial mouth guard, such as those with jaw pain or misalignment. While they may be more comfortable than full coverage options, they do pose a risk of teeth shifting over time.
5. Upper vs. Lower Teeth Mouth Guards
When it comes to choosing a night guard, understanding whether an upper or lower teeth mouth guard is best for you depends on your individual needs. Here’s what you should know:
Firstly, upper teeth mouth guards tend to offer the most benefit for patients. This is because the upper teeth tend to bear the brunt of the force when grinding or clenching the jaw. That being said, lower teeth mouth guards may be more appropriate in certain circumstances such as if you have missing teeth in your upper jaw or have a severe overbite.
It’s important to note that these custom night guards are not one size fits all. In order to be effective, they must be fitted and custom-molded to your teeth. This ensures a comfortable fit and the maximum level of protection. Additionally, it’s important to choose a high-quality material that is durable and safe for your teeth.
Whether you choose an upper or lower teeth mouth guard, it’s worth noting that these devices can provide significant benefits for those who suffer from bruxism and TMD. They protect your teeth from damage caused by grinding and clenching while also helping to alleviate symptoms such as headaches and jaw pain.
6. The Risks of Using Partial-Mouth Coverage Appliances
Partial-mouth coverage appliances are mouth guards that only cover a portion of your teeth. While they might seem like a viable option, they come with a significant risk. According to a board-certified TMJ and facial-pain specialist, wearing a partial-mouth coverage appliance can lead to teeth shifting. Teeth touch each other at nighttime to prevent them from drifting out of the jaw bone. By only covering a portion of your teeth, a partial-mouth coverage appliance can disrupt this natural mechanism and cause your teeth to shift.
However, there are specific cases where a partial-mouth coverage appliance is recommended by experts. For instance, if you have extensive dental work done on your front teeth, you might struggle to find a mouth guard that fits correctly and comfortably. In such cases, a partial-mouth coverage appliance can be used, which will prevent your teeth from touching while you sleep.
When choosing a mouth guard, it is crucial to opt for an appliance that covers all your teeth. Mouth guards that cover the upper or lower teeth entirely are safer because they prevent teeth shifting. However, make sure that you choose a mouth guard that fits well and is comfortable to wear. Consider your dentist’s recommendation and what feels right for you.
7. Doubling up on Mouth Guards Won’t Provide Extra Benefits
It is a common misconception that doubling up on mouth guards can provide extra benefits for teeth grinders. However, according to Dr. Nojan Toomarian, a board-certified TMJ and facial-pain specialist, there is no benefit to doing so and it can actually be harmful. Opening the jaw too much at night with two competing appliances can cause the jaw to get accustomed to that position and make it difficult to bring the teeth together after prolonged use.
Instead, it is best to use one high-quality mouth guard that is specifically designed for teeth grinding. Experts recommend using a mouth guard that covers all teeth to prevent the risk of teeth shifting. However, there are specific cases where partial mouth guards may be recommended.
It is important to choose a mouth guard that fits well and provides good coverage. Both boil-and-bite and ready-to-wear options are available, but a good fit is essential for effectiveness. While mouth guards can provide a short-term solution, they do not address the underlying causes of bruxism. Seeking professional dental or medical care to identify the root causes of teeth grinding is important for long-term treatment.
8. What Causes TMJ Pain
9. The Difference Between Acute and Chronic TMJ Pain
The best mouth guard for TMJ pain varies depending on the condition causing the pain. It is essential to identify if the pain is coming from the joint or the surrounding muscles. Acute TMJ pain is different from chronic TMJ pain and requires different treatments. Acute pain usually starts with an injury, where the pain expands to other areas, causing a self-perpetuating dysfunction of neural pain pathways. On the other hand, chronic TMJ pain occurs as a steady baseline pain, similar to non-specific low back pain.
To obtain the best mouth guard for your condition, you must first determine the cause of your pain. If the pain is due to muscle fatigue, tension, or spasm, myofascial pain is the diagnosis. Alternatively, the pain may stem from mechanical joint issues, inflammation and degenerative joint conditions. A dental professional can assist in identifying the type of pain and appropriate mouth guard selection.
10. Different Types of TMJ Mouth Guards and Their Usage
When comes to choosing a mouth guard for TMJ pain, it’s important to know the difference between acute and chronic pain, as well as the type of TMD you’re experiencing. There are two major sources of TMJ pain: the joint itself and the surrounding muscles. For joint issues, the pain can come from mechanical issues or a degenerative condition, while muscle pain can result from muscle fatigue or tension. Additionally, acute and chronic pain should be treated differently, as chronic pain can lead to a self-perpetuating dysfunction of neural pain pathways.