Oral Appliance and Self-Care for TMJ Disorder

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Last Updated: Aug 29, 2016

Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle (TMJ) Disorder, is a condition that leads to pain in the joints and muscles of the jaw. The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw to the bones of the skull and aids with the functioning of the jaw, from either side to side or up and down, in a manner that makes chewing, yawning and talking possible.

Also known as TMJ syndrome and TMJ disease, this common condition can cause unnecessary displeasure to the jaw, causing stiffness and discomfort as well as tooth wear and tear, ear pain and possible headaches. It can adversely affect its movement of the jaw, making it rather difficult to chew or talk, and may result in a locked jaw too.

Other side effects to also include jaw locking and jaw popping and people suffering from TMJ may notice that their upper and lower teeth don’t fit together very well. Oral Appliance is a form of TMJ treatment that is used to limit tooth wear and tear, jaw muscle pain and increase jaw mobility for easier movement.

What is Oral Appliance Treatment?

An oral appliance is a device that fits over the teeth, is easy to use and offers relief if used regularly. The appliance offers greater support to the jaw, in order to increase its stability. It also helps to reduce jaw sensitivity and soreness, by restricting the victims of TMJ disease from resting their teeth together and constantly clenching them.

Oral appliance devices can be purchased online or in medical stores, but these may prove to be inadequate if you haven’t consulted a medical professional, as the appropriate device needs to be customized for each individual.

Oral Appliance Treatment

Forms of Oral Appliance

There are various types of oral appliances that can be used for TMJ disorder treatment, and these include daytime to nighttime variants:

  • Night Oral Appliance
    The soreness and the constant tooth wear and tear can be reduced with the use of a night guard, as it helps to limit jaw clenching and teeth grinding while you sleep. Mouth guards are known to provide relief from various TMJ symptoms and can help with a speedy recovery.

    Check with your dentist about getting a customized device instead of generic ones that may not fit well. It’s essential to use a nighttime oral appliance that perfectly fits the shape of your teeth and jaw, since ill-fitting ones may cause more problems.

  • Day Oral Appliance
    When the temporomandibular joint is highly unstable, causing pain and stiffness of the jaw joints and muscles, it is necessary to address the problem right away. Use of a day oral appliance device will help avoid the jaw from locking, in order to provide relief as soon as possible.

    The device provides adequate rest to the teeth and should only be removed when really necessary, e.g. while eating meals. Keep it on the rest of the time, even if you feel self-conscious – your jaws will thank you for it!

Oral Appliance


With a proper understanding of various TMJ symptoms and treatments, self-care becomes exceedingly important:

  • Adjust your diet and eat soft, almost liquid foods that provide adequate rest to the jaw and allow it time to heal.
  • Put an end to tooth clenching and grinding with the help of simple techniques or prescription muscle relaxants, to let the jaw heal.
  • Medication might help the situation, to help get through the time that the jaw might need to heal.
  • Avoid any movements that could strain the jaw, even yawning.
  • Use heat and ice to help alter the immobility of the jaw and relieve pain.

Eating for TMD Relief

Eating for TMD Relief

Eating right can also drastically help with TMJ pain treatment:

  • It’s a good idea to increase intake of fish, soy, greens and other foods that contribute to joint health, such as selenium, magnesium, vitamins E & C, etc.
  • It’s important to avoid foods that could be hard on the jaw, like nuts and candy, as well as avoid chewy foods, such as gum and steaks.
  • It’s also necessary to limit the intake of foods that have the potential to cause jaw pain, such as refined and sugary products, alcohol, salt, corn oil, etc.

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