Do you grind or clench your teeth when you sleep? Do you have head or neck aches? Clicking or popping your jaw? A lot of stress going on? You might suffer from TMJ disorder.
Early detection is important to prevent TMJ (your jaw joint) problems. Your dental professional will assess for signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder at your dental check-up. He/she will look for worn teeth or fillings, clicking or popping of the jaw and will check your bite. Also, they will be asking you about symptoms that you experience when sleeping, when eating or if you experience headaches or neck aches. The dental care provider will examine how wide you can open your mouth and if it is painful or have the tendency to lock when opening.
To restore the function of your TM joint, the dentist will prescribe a series of recommendations: Make sure you keep your teeth apart when not talking or eating. Eat softer foods, smaller bites and avoid chewing gum. Sometime, during flare-ups, the dentist or physician will prescribe pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxers.
Last but not least the dentist will recommend a night splint or occlusal guard. A night splint is a custom made clear appliance that will keep your teeth apart and therefore will help relaxing your muscles. Most of the time it is recommended over your top teeth. An impression will be taken by your dental professional and the lab will fabricate the appliance. After the guard was fitted you will wear it for a couple of weeks and return for adjustments. It takes a little bit of time and effort to get used to wearing the night guard. When coming for regular check-ups, bring your guard with you to have it cleaned and adjusted if needed.