Splint Therapy for TMJ

Splint Therapy for TMJ

Dr. Laura Miller emphasizes the crucial role of the TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, beyond its common recognition as the connector between the jaw and skull. This joint is integral not only for speaking and chewing but also influences our posture. Its importance, however, may contribute to its susceptibility to issues. TMD, or TMJ disorder, manifests as swelling, pain, and discomfort in the jaw area, often accompanied by jaw locking and clicking sounds. Fortunately, managing this condition can be straightforward, with splint therapy being one effective approach.

How TMJ is treated?

For treating TMJ, Dr. Laura Miller may advise the use of a splint or an oral appliance, which functions to reposition the jaw and reduce stress on the TMJ, akin to the role of crutches in supporting a knee or ankle injury. The use of an oral appliance entails covering either the upper or lower teeth with a removable dental device, referred to as a splint. These splints are meticulously crafted in a dental laboratory, ensuring a precise and personalized fit for effective relief.

The splints are created using an impression of your teeth, ensuring they are uniquely tailored to you, and are typically constructed from durable acrylic resin. Once made, Dr. Miller will adjust and fit the splint to guarantee it effectively alleviates pressure on your TMJ and promotes healing.

Patients are required to wear the splint as prescribed (during the day, at night, or both) and attend follow-up appointments to monitor symptom improvement and adjust the splint as necessary. Dr. Laura Miller will also offer guidance on proper splint maintenance and care.

Dr. Laura Miller explains that splints aid in relaxing the ligaments and muscles of the jaw, thereby helping to curb unconscious habits like clenching and grinding that often lead to TMJ pain.

Misalignments in the bite can also be a contributing factor to TMD. Problems like over- or under-biting can strain the jaw, resulting in TMD discomfort. The splint works to realign the bite angle to a more natural and stress-free position.

Moreover, splints are beneficial in managing bruxism, preventing additional damage to the patient’s teeth. Issues such as headaches, sore teeth, and excessive enamel wear are commonly associated with both conscious and unconscious clenching and grinding.

Type of Splints

  • Stabilization Splints – These are used primarily to alleviate TMJ pressure resulting from clenching, grinding, and other symptoms of bruxism. Designed to cover all teeth, this type of splint is typically worn on the upper teeth and is used only at night.

  • Repositioning Splints – Aimed at correcting bite alignment issues or occlusions, these splints help protect against TMJ pressure and are worn throughout the day. They are used continuously every day until the desired outcome is achieved.

Splints serve as an effective solution for conditions like bruxism and occlusions, offering a long-term resolution for underlying issues. In some instances, however, “Phase II” treatments might be necessary to permanently adjust the jaw into the comfortable position provided by these appliances. Such treatments could include orthodontics, dental work, or surgery.

If you’re experiencing TMD symptoms and wondering if splints could be beneficial, consider scheduling a consultation with Dr. Laura Miller. During your appointment, a thorough examination will be conducted to address your specific concerns. In certain cases, dental imaging might be necessary for a comprehensive understanding of the root causes. Although TMD can be a challenging condition, the treatments offered are often effective in restoring full functionality for patients.