What is TMJ?
Does your jaw feel stiff or do you have difficulty opening your mouth wide? Are your teeth sensitive to cold drinks? Do your jaw muscles feel tired in the morning? You may be grinding your teeth at night (a medical condition called bruxism) or you may be clenching your teeth, which can be just as harmful. People with nighttime grinding habits may wear away their tooth enamel ‘ten times faster” than those with “abusive chewing habits”. Eventually, your teeth may be worn down and destroyed.
Collectively, these symptoms are called TMJ (tempomandibular joint) problems. The tempomandibular joint is located between your upper and lower jaw. Bruxism can cause damage to the TMJ, leading symptoms to become more severe. Without treatment, crowns (caps), bridges, implants and dentures are often needed to repair or replace worn and damaged teeth.
A night guard is the most commonly used treatment method for TMJ symptoms. A night guard is a horseshoe-shaped, retainer-like, plastic appliance with shallow borders that can be worn on either the top or the bottom arch. It is designed to protect the teeth from the pressure of clenching and grinding by providing a protective cushion between the upper and lower teeth. A night guard can be a simple, and affordable solution for protecting your teeth and jaws from the damaging effects of bruxism. When properly made, it can help reduce clenching, grinding, and TMJ problems by helping to relax the muscles in the jaw.