Are mouth guards an effective treatment of TMJ disorder?

Many of my clients in the clinic here who present with TMJ disorder have seen a dentist and been prescribed a mouthguard. They’ve primarily been prescribed this mouth guard for teeth grinding, particularly that at night, also known as bruxism.

Bruxism can cause many symptoms within the TMJ, particularly that of pain, tension and restriction in movement.

But do mouthguards treat this?

Studies show that mouthguards do not effectively reduce the pain associated with TMJ disorder, and can potentially increase the bruxism present, as well as increasing the symptoms caused by the bruxism.

But what else does a mouthguard do in the treatment of bruxism?

Another function of the mouthguard is to protect teeth from the excessive wear and tear caused by clenching or grinding. So, it’s not all doom and gloom for the mouthguard. However, if you have been prescribed one for TMJ-disorder related to bruxism, chances are you won’t receive much relief.

In my opinion, mouthguards don’t fully treat the cause of TMD, so what else can I do?

There are a few different structures through the area that could actually be the underlying cause of the pain you are experiencing. So, if you experience more of a muscular-type pain, your practitioner might use techniques such as dry needling to release the muscles. Massage work may also be used to increase the range of motion through the joint and stretch out some of the ligaments.