If you’re currently suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), there’s a good chance that you’re constantly searching for that one solution to help you feel better. Many times those with TMJ pain – including myself over the past 10 years – will turn to specialists in hopes of attaining pain relief. When these visits occur, oftentimes professionals will suggest you use TMJ appliances.
TMJ appliances range from extremely inexpensive and ineffective to incredibly expensive and moderately effective. Before you start shelling out your hard-earned bucks to buy these mouth guards and splints, it’s important that you learn their pros and cons – not to mention the TMJ home remedies you could be utilizing instead.
So open up and say “Ahhhh!” It’s time to check out some TMJ appliances.
Mouth Guards Aren’t Just For Athletes Anymore
Have you ever been watching a boxing match or football game on TV and noticed that the athletes have a piece of rubber in their mouths that conforms to their bite? This is called a mouth guard (or sometimes referred to as a mouthpiece or splint). They wear it in part to prevent their teeth from smashing into one another, which would result in chipped and damaged teeth.
Dentists often prescribe these same mouth guards as TMJ appliances. A few years ago I purchased one on Amazon. It was really inexpensive. When it arrived in the mail, I boiled it in water to soften the rubber, let it cool for about 3 seconds, and plopped it into my mouth. I bit down so it would conform perfectly to my bite. The thinking was that when I placed it in my mouth at night to sleep I wouldn’t have to worry about grinding my teeth anymore, which adds strain on the TMJ joint.
Yes, the rubber prevented me from grinding my teeth. The problem is that the mouth guard created a perfect surface for clenching. I’d wake up in the morning with the most awful muscle pain in my jaw – even worse than when I didn’t use it. It didn’t provide pain relief at all!
Space-In-Between TMJ Appliances
After my failed attempt with football-player-like mouthpieces, I decide to try a different – albeit much more expensive – TMJ appliance.
This device is also designed to stop your jaw from clenching. It goes right under the two front teeth (see image at right). In order to get one of these TMJ appliances, you have to visit specialists so they can make a splint that conforms perfectly to your two front teeth.
Once again there is a major issue, however. Although this appliance does a nice job of preventing teeth grinding, it focuses all of the pressure on just your front teeth. This means you wake up in the morning in almost as much pain as a rubber mouthpiece or no mouthpiece at all.
The bottom line is this: TMJ appliances are just “Bandaids” for the disorder. They treat the symptoms but not the root causes. The fact that they can cost so much is another reason to stay away from them.
Try focusing your attention on home remedies. You’ll learn useful tips to help you if you clench, which is usually a sign of anxiety and anger. A few things to incorporate into your nightly routine include:
- Deep breathing before going to bed
- Staying away from high-stimulus activities before going to bed, like watching the news
- Reading fiction-type novels that help you to “turn off”
- Staying away from your laptop, iPhone, Twitter, Facebook, and all those things that keep you “plugged in.”
These home remedies, and many more, will prevent clenching so you’re not spending your life chewing on a piece of plastic at night.
What tips can you share in the comments section below that help you “turn off” at night?