The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull. This joint controls jaw movement and allows it to hinge and unhinge when a person bites, speaks, or yawns. Unfortunately, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that more than 10 million people in the United States suffer from TMJ disorder.
TMJ disorder compromises jaw movement and can cause a number of other uncomfortable side effects. At our dental practice, Dr. Bruce J. Wilderman can provide patients with a custom oral appliance to minimize symptoms of TMJ disorder.
By wearing an oral appliance to address TMJ disorder, we can restore jaw function and alleviate pain and discomfort for our Philadelphia, PA patients.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
When a patient suffers from TMJ disorder, the jaw does not hinge as smoothly as intended. Stiffness in jaw movements can inhibit oral functions and lead to various symptoms, such as:
- Oral pain
- Ringing in the ears
- A clicking or popping sound when the jaw opens and closes
- Neck or shoulder pain
How Can an Oral Appliance Help?
There are several different issues that can lead to TMJ disorder, and an oral appliance addresses many of them. An oral appliance, more commonly referred to as a mouth guard or splint, is worn in the mouth to keep the jaw in its proper place.
One of the most common causes of TMJ disorder is misalignment. If the upper and lower jaw do not line up properly, movements are likely to be disjointed. With proper alignment, the temporomandibular joint is more likely to hinge smoothly. Since an oral appliance holds the jaw in its correct position, it reduces discomfort that is linked to alignment problems.
Another common cause of TMJ disorder is bruxism. Bruxism is the act of clenching or grinding the teeth. This puts a lot of pressure on the teeth and jaw. Bruxism can cause dental damage that further exacerbates any misalignment issues.
Additionally, the force of bruxism can result in inflammation in the jaw. Inflammation can inhibit jaw movements and lead to TMJ disorder. An oral appliance aligns the jaw, and protects the teeth so patients can’t grind or clench them together.
When Is an Oral Appliance Worn?
Many patients are hesitant to treat TMJ disorder with an oral appliance because they think that it needs to be worn 24 hours a day. In nearly all cases, a mouth guard is only worn at night, while the patient sleeps.
Each mouth guard is customized for the patient, so it fits comfortably and should not interfere with a good night’s sleep. In all, a mouth guard is a comfortable and convenient oral appliance that has helped many patients find relief from TMJ disorder symptoms.
Contact Our Practice
If you suspect that you are suffering from TMJ disorder, it is important to discuss your concerns with a dentist experienced with TMJ disorder treatment. Call (215) 340-1199 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bruce J. Wilderman at your earliest convenience, or contact our practice to learn more about our comprehensive range of dental services.