TMJ Splints / Nightguards
Mouth Guards II
When Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) relationships do not coincide with dental occlusion or teeth occlude abnormally, muscles may become tender. When left untreated, TMJ problems can lead to osteoarthritis, osteoarthrosis, and degenerative joint disease. Dental night guards are typically recommended for patients with a history of bruxism, which if left untreated can result in several problems with the teeth and jaws.
Some of the issues arising from bruxism include various temporomandibular disorders, usually referred to as TMD or TMJ. By the time a patient has developed this kind of problem, occlusal or TMJ splints are usually required to treat the condition.
Patients typically experience one of two primary forms of bruxism:
- Sleep bruxism, which happens during rest, and
- Awake bruxism, which happens while the patient is awake.
Both types cause similar dental damage, but the symptoms of sleep bruxism are worse on waking and improve during the following hours. The symptoms of awake bruxism may not be present at all on waking, however, and then worsen over the day.
The causes of bruxism are not completely understood, but probably involve multiple factors. Awake bruxism is thought to have different causes than sleep bruxism, and is more common in females, whereas males and females are affected in equal proportions by sleep bruxism. Several treatments are in use, although there is little evidence of robust efficacy for any particular treatment. A bruxism appliance is one of the most practical dental night guards available at this point in time.
Symptoms of TMD include pain in the muscles around the jaw joints, limited movement, cracking, clicking or popping sounds, headaches that start in front of the ear, and facial muscle spasms. To diagnose the disorder, dentists assess how the jaw joints move and examines the patient’s teeth and facial muscles for tenderness and signs of teeth grinding or clenching.
Wearing TMJ splints can reduce patients’ symptoms by decreasing the pressure on the jaw joints or realigning the bite. The standard TMJ appliance is a stabilization splint, which is also called a bite guard or bite plate. According to the TMJ Association (TMJA), a splint is a hard dental appliance made of acrylic resin that fits over the upper or lower teeth. This device prevents contact between the teeth, and when the teeth touch the splint, they’re in the least harmful and most correct position. Splints are generally worn 24 hours a day, but dentists may also prescribe dental night guards for the patient to wear while sleeping.
These are plastic elastic appliances that fit over the upper or lower teeth and provide a surface for the dentist to control how the teeth opposite the splint will hit. The Gelb splint is indicated for patients who grind or clench their teeth, suffer headaches or sinus pain, clicking jaw joints, chronic neck and shoulder pain. They are made from copolyester, where occlusal splints are typically constructed of hard acrylic resin. Gelb TMJ splints control the position of the jaw and reduce the forces exerted on affected temporomandibular joints. This helps to relax the muscles and prevent further wear on natural teeth from grinding.
This is a device that decreases the muscular inflammation, enabling the muscles to be easily guided into a CR position. The device effectively “deprograms” the muscles involved with closing, thereby reducing the TMJ discomfort.
NTI (Nociceptive Trigeminal Inhibition)
The NTI appliance fits on the upper front teeth and is designed to prevent tooth clenching and grinding. The objective of these dental night guards is to relax the muscles involved in clenching and mastication, thus diminishing the chances for migraines and tension headaches to develop. It is sometimes used for temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). It fits on only a few teeth, however, which results in placing a great deal of stress on them that can be harmful. Also, because of its small size, if it comes off during the night, there is danger that it could be swallowed or aspirated.
Custom Dental Night Guards
At Baluke Dental Studios, we fabricate custom-fitted night guards for your patients such as:
- Eclipse® Heat & Seat™, which fits as comfortably as a soft appliance but functions like a hard one with minimal coverage. These resilient, lined nightguards have a higher flexural and impact strength, are monomer- and BPA-free. The guards are clear and almost invisible, less bulky and comfortable enough to wear throughout the day. They provide superior-fitting nightguards with less shrinkage than conventional acrylics.
- IMPAK™ SOFT Clear Night Guard, indicated for bruxism and TMJ disorders. This clear, soft laminate is a comfortable, strong and lightweight guard against destructive bruxism. It softens further in hot water with amazing flexibility and maximum tooth protection for even better comfort.
- Pro-Form™ Hard Dual Laminate, for TMJ disorders and occlusion splints. The dual laminate is a hard/soft thermal formed material that is great for functional TMJ splints. It is durable with a long life, requires minimal chair time and adjustments, will bond to the hard surface to allow the dental technician to modify the occlusal surface. Laminated for strength, has excellent retention, and softens in hot water. Available in 3 different thicknesses: 0.080 (2mm), 0.120, (3mm), and .200 (5mm). Click here to view the MSDS.
- Nightguard Hard Ball Clasps: We can add stainless steel ball clasps to a Nightguard to maximize retention.
For more information or to order custom-made dental night guards and TMJ splints that can help to treat bruxism and other TMD symptoms, please contact us at 1-800-263-3099 today.