Dental Solutions for TMJ: From Mouthguards to Surgery

Dental Solutions for TMJ: From Mouthguards to Surgery

Many people feel pain in their jaws. This often comes from TMJ disorder, a common problem. Our article will guide you through different ways to ease this pain, from simple mouthguards to surgery if needed.

Let’s explore solutions together.

Key Takeaways

  • TMJ disorder causes jaw pain and can be treated with mouthguards, splints, or surgery.
  • Custom – made TMJ mouthguards fit better and prevent damage from teeth grinding at night.
  • Splints offer various types for easing different symptoms of TMJ disorders, including devices that cover all teeth or just front ones to alleviate pressure.
  • Surgical options for severe TMJ cases include arthroscopy and open – joint surgery but are considered only after other treatments have failed due to potential risks.
  • Dentists and orthodontists help patients choose the right treatment, ensuring it suits their specific needs for effective symptom relief.

Understanding TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder, or temporomandibular joint disorder, disrupts the normal function of the jaw muscles and nerves. This condition leads to pain and unease in the jaw area. It happens when there’s too much strain on the TMJ, which connects your jawbone to your skull.

Symptoms can include soreness around the ear, difficulty chewing, and sometimes a clicking sound when opening or closing the mouth.

Wearing a mouthguard at night is one method doctors suggest for easing symptoms because it lessens pressure on both the teeth and jaw. These oral appliances are known to offer relief by preventing habits like teeth grinding that often worsen TMJ troubles.

Besides using a mouthpiece, patients might find relaxation techniques useful in managing their discomfort. With proper care, only a small fraction—about 15 percent—of those with TMJ issues will develop chronic problems, showing how effective non-surgical treatments like mouthguards can be.

Treating TMJ: Mouthguards

Mouthguards are a common treatment for TMJ disorders that help to alleviate symptoms and protect the teeth from grinding. They provide a cushioning effect, reducing pressure on the jaw joint and muscles during sleep.

What is a TMJ Mouthguard?

A TMJ mouthguard is a special device that fits over your teeth. It helps treat symptoms of TMJ disorder, like jaw joint pain, by stopping you from clenching or grinding your teeth at night.

This not only prevents damage to your pearly whites but also reduces muscle spasms and stops the jaw from locking up, clicking, or popping. Dentists design these custom-made guards for comfort and durability, making them a reliable solution for those suffering from TMJ problems.

Moving on, we’ll explore who benefits most from using a TMJ mouthguard.

Who are TMJ Mouthguards Best for?

TMJ mouthguards offer relief for those dealing with symptoms of TMJ disorder, such as pain in the jaw, trouble eating, or a snapping sound when they open their mouth. People who often grind their teeth at night or clench their jaws due to stress might find that these guards help ease their discomfort.

These devices work by preventing direct contact between upper and lower teeth, reducing strain on the jaw joints and muscles.

Custom-made versions of these protectors are especially beneficial. They fit better and last longer than off-the-shelf options. This makes them a great choice for anyone seeking lasting comfort from the troubling signs of temporomandibular joint disorder.

Dental professionals take precise measures to ensure these custom devices meet individual needs perfectly, providing effective pain alleviation and improved jaw function over time.

Pros and Cons of TMJ Mouthguards

TMJ mouthguards have their upsides and downsides. They can be a good fit for some people, but others might face challenges.


  1. Custom-made TMJ Mouthguards Fit Better: These guards match the shape of your teeth and jaw more accurately. This makes them more comfortable and effective in preventing damage to teeth, reducing muscle spasms, and stopping the jaw from locking up.
  2. They Offer More Reliable Solutions: Since they’re specifically designed for your mouth, these guards have a higher chance of treating TMJ disorder symptoms thoroughly.
  3. Protection Against Tooth Damage: By wearing these guards, you shield your teeth from harm caused by clenching or grinding during sleep.
  4. Improvement in Symptoms: Many users find significant relief from jaw pain, tenderness, ear pains, and difficulties with eating.
  5. Sleep Quality Can Improve: With less discomfort and jaw locking, getting a good night’s sleep becomes easier.
  6. Covered by Insurance: Often, the cost of these custom devices is offset by insurance plans, making them more accessible.


  1. High Price Tag Without Insurance: Custom mouthguards can be expensive if not covered by your health plan.
  2. Requires Adjustment Time: Some people may need time to get used to wearing the guard at night.
  3. Maintenance Demands: To keep them in good shape and free from bacteria, you need to clean them regularly following specific instructions.
  4. Possibility of Becoming Useless If Not Cared For Properly: Without proper maintenance, these guards can warp or harbour harmful bacteria.

By using TMJ mouthguards properly and caring for them as instructed by dental professionals, many individuals find relief from their symptoms while protecting their teeth from further damage.

Custom vs. Over-the-Counter Mouthguards

Choosing the right mouthguard for TMJ involves comparing custom-made options with those you can buy directly from a store. Here’s how they stack up:

FeatureCustom MouthguardsOver-the-Counter Mouthguards
FitSnug and secure, since made based on individual dental impressionsLess precise fit, may require trimming or molding at home
ComfortHigh, thanks to tailor-made design and materials like VistaMaxxVariable, often bulkier and less comfortable than custom options
PriceMore costly, can be hundreds of dollars due to professional fittingMore affordable, prices vary but significantly cheaper than custom options
EffectivenessHigher, specifically designed to alleviate TMJ symptomsCan offer some relief, but not as effective due to generic design
ConvenienceRequires dental visits for fittingAvailable immediately, can be used right out of the package

Custom mouthguards, like those from CustMbite, are made for a perfect fit, improving sleep and comfort for those with TMJ. They are created from a model of your teeth, ensuring they meet your specific needs. However, they come with a higher price tag and the need for dentist visits. Over-the-counter options are more wallet-friendly and convenient, but they might not offer the same level of comfort or effectiveness.

Exploring alternatives to mouthguards is next, including splints and surgical options for TMJ relief.

Alternatives to TMJ Mouthguards

Consider splints or surgical solutions. Splints are custom-made devices that fit over your teeth to relieve pressure on the jaw joint, while surgical options can provide long-term relief for severe cases.

Splints: Purpose and Types

Splints serve a valuable role in managing TMJ disorders. They sit on the teeth to help ease discomfort and improve jaw function.

  • Stabilisation Splints: Often made from hard acrylic resin, these cover all upper or lower teeth. Their goal is to reduce pain by easing the tension in the jaw. People with bruxism benefit from their use as it prevents tooth grinding during sleep.
  • Anterior Biteplane: This variant focuses on stopping tooth contact except for the front teeth. It targets symptoms like headaches and ear aches by relieving pressure on the back teeth.
  • NTI-TSS (nociceptive trigeminal inhibition tension suppression system): A smaller device that only covers the front teeth. It aims to prevent migraines triggered by jaw clenching by not allowing the back teeth to touch.
  • Repositioning Splint: Designed to change the jaw’s position, these are used in more severe TMJ cases. They help in realigning the jaws to reduce pain and improve bite function.
  • Over-the-counter Splints: Easily available and less expensive, but they might not fit well since they are not custom-made. They offer a temporary solution for mild symptoms.
  • Sport Mouth Guards: Although not specifically designed for TMJ disorder, they can provide relief for people engaging in sports activities. They cushion blows that could otherwise worsen TMJ symptoms.

Each type of splint has its unique purpose and must be chosen based on individual needs and symptoms of TMJ disorder. Custom-made options usually offer better fit and effectiveness but come at a higher cost. Over-the-counter versions can be a good starting point for those looking for immediate relief from mild discomfort.

Surgical Solutions

Surgical solutions for TMJ disorders include several procedures aimed at relieving pain and restoring function. The most common surgeries are arthroscopy, where doctors insert a small camera into the joint to see and fix issues with minimal cuts, and open-joint surgery for more severe problems.

Botox injections can also help relax jaw muscles, reducing discomfort without surgery.

Doctors consider these surgeries as last options because they come with risks of pain and complications. Success isn’t guaranteed either. Each case is unique, so treatment depends on what’s causing the TMD.

A medical team may use dental scans to make precise decisions about whether surgery is the right path or if other treatments should be tried first.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right treatment for TMJ disorder ranges from simple mouthguards to complex surgery. Mouthguards, both custom-made and store-bought, offer a less invasive way to ease jaw pain and protect teeth.

For those needing more than what mouthguards provide, options like splints or even advanced procedures are available. Super Dental Care in Campbelltown Sydney has highly experienced dentists and orthodontists to help you with TMJ treatment.

You can book your appointment here


1. What are some treatments for TMJ disorder?

Treatments for TMJ disorder range from wearing nightguards to manage teeth clenching, using occlusal splints, to undergoing minimally invasive procedures like arthroscopic surgery.

2. Can physical therapy help with TMJ pain?

Yes, seeing a physical therapist can offer relief from TMJ pain through exercises and techniques like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and low-level laser therapy.

3. Are there any medications that relieve TMJ discomfort?

Pain relievers such as ibuprofen and prescription muscle relaxers can ease the discomfort caused by TMJ. In some cases, doctors might recommend anti-anxiety medication or tricyclic antidepressants for related symptoms.

4. How does orthodontic treatment address TMJ issues?

Orthodontic treatments, including braces and retainers, can correct dental occlusion problems contributing to TMJ disorders by aligning the teeth properly and reducing strain on the jaw joint.

5. Is surgery an option for treating severe cases of TMJD?

For chronic or severe cases of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), surgical procedures may be considered when other treatments haven’t provided relief. Options include arthroscopy or more comprehensive surgeries depending on the condition’s severity.

6. What self-care practices can help manage symptoms of TMJD at home?

Self-care practices like applying ice packs for inflammation, practicing stress-reducing techniques such as biofeedback or meditation, gentle jaw stretching exercises, and avoiding habits that exacerbate pain like gum chewing can significantly manage symptoms of TMJD at home.

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