Occlusal guards are used, most often, when there is a TMJ disorder diagnosed. They are also used to prevent clenching and grinding, which can lead to TMD (temporomandibular disorder) and migraines. Dr. Skees has 3 different kinds of occlusal guards that she recommends for different diagnoses.
When your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) has trauma (clenching, grinding, or external trauma) the joints and jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close your mouth, do not function properly. This can lead to inflammation inside the joint, cracked teeth, and even further damage.
Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket. The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.
Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:
- arthritis (this is often diagnosed with a CBCT or PAN)
- tooth and jaw misalignment
- teeth grinding/clenching (most often diagnosed clinically)
Treatments that can alleviate pain and treat symptoms
- Occlusal Guard
- Botox treatments into specific muscles
- eating softer foods
- avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
- modifying the pain with heat packs
- practicing relaxation techniques to control jaw tension, such as meditation or biofeedback.
- exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- medications prescribed by your dentist; for example, muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications
- Adjusting an occlusion (bite)