These devices have been used since the 1930’s for bruxism, jaw clenching and TMJ disorders. In essence, these are custom fit plastic mouth pieces that cover the upper and low teeth. They can perform two benefits for TMJ patients. First, they can prevent the pressure and force between the teeth with jaw clenching and bruxism. This in turn relieves some of the pressure on the jaw area as well as reducing TMJ problems. Secondly, the mouth pieces because they are custom fit, allow a correction in any bite alignment and jaw positioning that you may have. Both have benefits in TMJ disorders.
Night guards are distinguished by the fact that they are only worn at night. This may be the only device needed for some patients with TMJ that have bruxism. Splint therapies with oral splints on the other hand are worn 24 hours a day, everyday. These protect the jaw and teeth, but likewise have benefits of correcting poor jaw alignment. Over time, this helps alleviate the pain and symptoms of TMJ by protecting the jaw from daytime activities such as talking, chewing, etc.
For many patients with transient TMJ symptoms, or mild to moderate severity symptoms, oral splint therapies can be very beneficial for both direct treatment and prevention of TMJ symptoms.