If you are suffering from TMJ symptoms, you’re probably desperate to make them go away. Then you happen to see a device in your drugstore that promises to make it better. It seems the perfect choice. But the truth is that these over-the-counter (OTC) treatments likely won’t work for you. What seems a simple solutions might turn into complex problems, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. Here’s why.
The Nightguard Isn’t Fitted to You
One of the most important things in getting TMJ treatment is making sure the solution is precisely fitted to your bite. An OTC nightguard is mass-produced, designed to some parameters that may fit with some average case, but likely won’t fit your case. Remember, your jaw has a very complex configuration: it can move in six different ways. And TMJ could be caused by misalignment in each (or possibly even all) of these directions of motion. It’s exceedingly unlikely that the mass-produced appliance will just happen to correspond to the precise problem in your jaw alignment. And don’t be fooled by OTC nightguards that claim to be fitted to you. Typically, this just refers to boil-and-bite technology similar to sports mouthguards. This allows the guards to be fitted to your teeth, but not to your bite.
Your Muscles Are Still Tense
Before we begin measuring your bite for the optimal oral appliance, we will relax your jaw muscles using TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). This allows us to measure your bite free from the jaw tension that’s built up as a result of your previous bite situation. But it also sets your jaw free to find its optimal rest position. Once we’ve eliminated previous jaw tension, your jaw will be more receptive to a new bite position. It won’t fight the bite splint or other treatment. But if you put a new bite guard into the system where your jaws are still strained and fighting, you won’t eliminate the strain. If anything, you might make it worse, as the muscles now have a new obstacle to fight against.
You Can Strain Your Jaw Joint
Let’s say that the nightguard accomplishes its stated purpose of protecting your teeth, but doesn’t eliminate the muscle tension. All that tension has to be directed somewhere. Some of it will be directed at the nightguard, but some of it will be directed at your jaw joint. This can increase the strain on the jaw joint, leading to more damage, potentially worsening your TMJ.
Postponing Treatment Is Bad
But even if the nightguard isn’t directly causing damage to your jaw joint, it can be indirectly causing damage because it’s keeping you from getting real treatment. TMJ is a progressive condition. It rewrites your brain and the longer you postpone real treatment, whether by trying home care or by trying OTC devices, the more damage your jaw joint will sustain, and the more likely it becomes that surgery will be your only treatment option. Don’t waste time and money on OTC treatments that aren’t designed for you. Get effective, customized treatment for your TMJ in Savannah. Please call (912) 234-8282 today for an appointment with a neuromuscular dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.