TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint, which is the bone structure, muscles and connective tissues that surround the jaw and control chewing. When patients experience disorders of this joint, they are said to have a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. Symptoms of TMD include pain and tenderness near the jaw, as well as popping or clicking in the joint when speaking or chewing. There are many ways of treating TMJ disorders, ranging from non-invasive therapy and bite splints to injections or surgery. Left untreated, however, TMJ disorders can lead to headaches, muscle pain, malocclusion and tooth damage from grinding or clenching.

TMD alone is not a disorder, but instead a collection of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint? It is the second most common pain-causing musculoskeletal condition in the U.S. according to the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 12 percent of Americans may suffer from some type of TMD, with women twice as likely to be affected than men. But despite the prevalence and wide availability of treatment, only one out every three people with TMD fails to seek treatment.

How do I know if TMJ treatment is right for me?

You will first need to be formally examined and diagnosed with TMJ disorder. You dentist will evaluate the extent of the condition and determine what course of treatment is best for you. Usually, the initial approach involves conservative treatments, such as self-care, physical therapy and bite guards. Medications may also be used to relax the jaw or relieve pain. Patients who do not respond to conservative treatments may be considered for surgery or joint injections.

What should I expect if I undergo treatment for TMJ

TMJ treatment varies from patient to patient, so your experience may be very different than someone else’s. You’ll probably be asked to adopt certain lifestyle changes to help facilitate rehabilitation in your jaw. For example, you may be asked to avoid sudden jaw movements, such as yelling or yawning. You may also need to begin sleeping on your back and take steps to reduce your stress levels.

Will I need to follow any special post-care instructions while being treated for TMJ?

Your post-treatment care instructions will vary according to the type of treatment you receive. If you undergo an aggressive treatment, such as surgery, you may be temporarily subject to an all-liquid diet. You’ll also need to apply ice to the face to minimize swelling and also keep the surgical site clean and dry.

Dental mouth guards have long been used to protect the teeth, gums and supporting tissues from damage, injury and trauma. There are two types of sports mouth guards – over the counter and custom. While OTC guards are helpful for occasional use, many dental patients require the benefit of a customized dental mouth guard fitted by a dentist to effectively prevent injury.

Caring for your new custom mouth guard is simple.

The American Dental Association recommends keeping protected in a sturdy container in between usage. You should also be careful to clean your mouth guard after use and occasionally soak it in cool, soapy water for thorough sanitation. Custom dental mouth guards are designed for durability, but it is important to check your mouth guard for signs of wear every few months. Mouth guards for children and teens must be replaced frequently to account for growing jaws and changes to the teeth.

 

Do I need a dental mouth guard?

There are many reasons why wearing a dental mouth guard could be right for you. A few examples include:

Nighttime wear to prevent damage from teeth grinding and bruxism

Tooth and lip protection during high-impact sports, such as martial arts

To serve as a barrier between the lips and oral appliances, such as metal braces

To protect fragile bridgework

What should I expect when my dentist fits me for a mouth guard?

Your visit will consist of taking an impression of your teeth that will be used as a mold for your new mouth guard. You may even be able to leave your dental appointment with your custom mouth guard in-hand.

Should I follow any special instructions?

Before you leave your dentist’s office with your new mouth guard, you’ll receive instructions on how and when to wear it. If you suffer from TMJ disorders or bruxism, for example, you will likely wear your mouth guard at night. If you participate in recreational sports, however, you may only need to wear your mouth guard during physical activity.

A bite guard is a dental appliance custom-fit to a patient’s teeth. Bite guards serve varying purposes and are often recommended for use in patients of all ages. It is important that bite guards be professionally fit, rather than purchased over the counter, as this ensures maximum comfort and protection during wear. Professional dental guards are usually prepared in a dental lab using an oral impression taken in a dentist’s office. These guards are created uniquely to each patient to prevent discomfort, slippage or inadequate protection. There are many reasons why a dentist would prescribe a mouth guard to a patient. They include:

  • To protect the teeth, tongue and cheeks during sports and high-impact activities
  • To protect the teeth from nighttime grinding or clenching

Did you know?

Caring for a dental bite guard is simple. You’ll need to rinse it before and after every usage using a soft-bristled toothbrush, toothpaste and cold water. From time to time, cleanse it with cold water and a mild soap. When not in use, store your mouth guard in a hard, ventilated container and keep it away from hot temperatures that could cause your guard to warp.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a bite guard?

You absolutely need to be fit for a custom bite guard if you participate in sports or activities that put your oral health at risk. These guidelines also apply to children, who often play sports like football or participate in activities like martial arts, which can cause tooth-related injuries. You may also need a bite guard if your dentist diagnosis you with bruxism, or tooth-grinding. Over time, grinding or clenching the teeth can lead to wear and irreversible damage. Sleeping with a bite guard can protect the teeth from these unwanted side effects.

What should I expect when being fit for a dental bite guard?

Being fit for a bite guard is simple. You’ll visit your dentist, who will take an impression of your teeth and send it off to a dental laboratory. The lab will carefully construct a durable and comfortable new bite guard that you can pick up at your dentist’s office in just days.

Will I need to return to my dentist after getting my new bite guard?

Yes. Although custom bite guards are made of durable materials and designed to last through many uses, they do need to be replaced from time to time. Keep an eye on your bite guard, checking it frequently for wear. Also, bring it with you to your normal dental cleanings and check-ups for a professional inspection. Be sure to tell your dentist if your bite guard no longer offers an optimal fit or if it has become uncomfortable to wear.

Dental sealants are clear coatings applied to the surfaces of a child’s molars to prevent the development of tooth decay. They work by preventing food and plaque from resting in the grooves and crevices of molars – an area especially susceptible to cavities. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, nearly 1 in 3 U.S. children ages 6 to 12 currently have sealants on their teeth.

 Sealants can last as long as 5 to 10 years pediatric dental patients? Depending on a child’s oral development and risk factors for tooth decay, sealants may be applied to the teeth as young as age 6. It is at this time that the first molars typically appear. Additional molars erupt at approximately age 12. If possible, sealants should be applied to a child’s teeth immediately after any molar has appeared to reduce the risk of early decay.

Will dental sealants affect the feel or appearance of my child’s teeth?

Sealants bond directly to the teeth, where they harden to a clear or tooth-colored coat. This makes them virtually undetectable to others. Though it is normal to feel new sealants with the tongue, most children quickly adapt to their presence.

What will my child experience when getting sealants?

The process of getting sealants is fast and painless. The tooth is cleaned before the dentist paints the sealant onto the enamel. The sealant will immediately harden, acting as a barrier between bacteria and the chewing surface of the teeth. In most cases, sealants will last several years before needing to be reapplied. However, regular visits to the dentist will be necessary to monitor the condition of the sealants and examine their effectiveness.

Will sealants prevent all cavities?

While sealants are extremely effective for preventing tooth decay in children, they do not replace other forms of preventative oral health care. Children should still brush and floss each day using a fluoridated toothpaste. Regular dental exams and a balanced diet low in sugar are also essential for good long-term oral health

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