TMJ Pain

TMJ: Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (sometimes abbreviated to TMD or TMJD) is an umbrella term covering pain and dysfunction of the muscles of mastication (the muscles that move the jaw) and the temporomandibular joints (the joints which connect the mandible to the skull). The most important feature is pain, followed by restricted mandibular movement, and noises from the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) during jaw movement. Although TMD is not life threatening, it can detriment quality of life, because the symptoms can become chronic and difficult to manage. TMD is thought to be very common. About 20-30% of the adult population are affected to some degree. TMD is the second most frequent cause of orofacial pain after dental pain (e.g. toothache). TMD-Pain-1024x678

Treatment by Dental Specialist

Occlusal splints (also termed bite plates or intra-oral appliances) are often used by dentists to treat TMD. They are usually made of acrylic and can be hard or soft. They can be designed to fit onto the upper teeth or the lower teeth. They may cover all the teeth in one arch (full coverage splint) or only some (partial coverage splint). Splints are also termed according to their intended mechanism, such as the anterior positioning splint or the stabilization splint.

A stabilization splint is a hard acrylic splint that guides the lower jaw to meet in an “ideal” relationship for the muscles of mastication and the TMJs. It is claimed that this technique reduces abnormal muscular activity and promotes “neuromuscular balance”. It is more complicated to construct than other types of splint since a face bow and jaw relation record is required and significantly more skill on the part of the dentist. This kind of splint should be properly fitted to avoid exacerbating the problem. The use of the splint should be discontinued if it is painful or increases existing pain. Medication is also prescribed to manage pain in TMD.