Whilst there is no fast fix to relieve symptoms of the TMJ, splints and bite adjustment is a gradual process, often over a year. It is because the disc has been displaced out of position for many years, usually starting from about 14 years of age. The first stage of treatment is Occlusal Splint Therapy including counselling concerning Oro-Facial habits.
What Does The Term Occlusion Mean?
Occlusion is the dental subject involving the bite. There are four bites which are hinge bite, right and left bite, and forward bite. Each of these bites must be in harmony with the Temporomandibular jaw joints, TMJ, muscles of the face and the teeth. If this does not occur, then during sleep excessive lateral sideways (cow-like) forces are generated.
So the best treatment for TMJ and the first step to correct this is occlusal splint therapy.
What Is Occlusal Splint Therapy?
A fully protective occlusal splint is the best treatment for the relief of TMJ symptoms and treatment for the TMJ disorder (TMD). These splints focus on the bite and is a key process giving patients a starting point.
Splints are mainly worn at night and made of a hard, acrylic resin (but 100 times softer than teeth). It’s a clear denture material, usually over the top teeth, to create ‘four protective bites’ often missing in the patient’s mouth. These splints will require splint adjustments from time to time for the best outcome.
Normal occlusal splint therapy involves four splint adjustments over a three month period. Others find they need many more adjustments. These adjustments are required to keep pace with facial muscles relaxing right to left and the discs re-locating back into the centre of the joint.
Fully protected occlusal splint in protective right jaw movement and left jaw movement.
How Do Splints Help TMJ / TMD?
A splint is made to create a newly improved bite overlaying the patient’s teeth. Just like we have a pillow to rest our head on at night, your teeth and jaw have a resting post too. It’s these splints that help the jaw become more relaxed and patients find, even after just two or three splint adjustments, the pain or clicking of the jaw has gone; they have less tension between shoulders blades and their pain is reduced. Patients say they sleep much better and eliminate grinding of teeth at night. They wake up and their headaches they normally had are reduced or completely gone.
However fully protected occlusal splint therapy is just one part of the overall treatment together with plenty of rest, relaxation and pampering of the face.
Bite adjustment is another phase that follows because once your TMJ discs and jaw is back in its home position or true hinge bite, the poor position and arrangement of your teeth will be obvious to us both. Dr. Florian Mack will explain all this during your treatment.
If you would like to know more about TMJ Dr. Florian Mack has a particular clinical interest in TMJ / TMD disorders so you will in good hands and be given the right advice. Please give us a call 07 3221 0443 or Contact Us and we will arrange a consultation at your convenience at our Brisbane City practice or Southport practice on the Gold Coast.