If you’ve been doing some research on TMJ treatment, you’ve probably encountered the phrase “bite splint” or “TMJ splint”, but these often aren’t clearly defined. You may just be in pain and think that a TMJ splint is the solution. For many people, a bite splint is the solution, but it’s not the only solution.
The first step in getting a TMJ splint is to contact Corpus Christi TMJ dentist Dr. Don Lowrance and find out if a TMJ splint is the right TMJ treatment for you.
Determining Your Bite Position
After a proper TMJ diagnosis, Dr. Lowrance will establish where your ideal, neuromuscularly balanced bite position is, and will be able to create an oral TMJ appliance called an orthotic (or commonly known as a TMJ “Bite Splint”).
The process for determining the proper bite position involves a lot of different techniques. We often approach this beginning with TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) that relaxes the jaw muscles and allows your jaw to move freely. We then use the K7 system to measure the motion of your jaw, including how much muscle activity is required to hold your jaw in a certain position. When we determine your jaw’s proper position, you may be surprised at how far it is from where you normally hold your jaw.
A Noninvasive, Reversible Treatment
One of the benefits of a bite splint is that it’s a noninvasive, removable, and reversible treatment for TMJ. If it works, you can keep wearing it, and if it doesn’t or if it’s uncomfortable, you can stop wearing it, and there’s no harm done.
Depending on the type of bite splint, it can accomplish many different goals, such as:
- Preventing clenching or grinding of teeth
- Protecting teeth from wear or damage
- Helping relax jaw muscles
- Hold the cushioning disc in place in the temporomandibular joint
- Reposition the jaw joint
We will talk to you about which one is best for you.
How Long Will I Have to Wear My TMJ Splint?
Typically, the TMJ splint is worn 24 hours a day (except when cleaning the teeth) for a few weeks up to several months, and then you and Dr. Lowrance will have a follow-up appointment to decide what to do next, even if that is just to keep wearing the TMJ splint. However, in some cases, you may just start out wearing the bite splint at night, although we may decide to increase the amount of time you wear it.
If you are happy with the results of your TMJ splint, but don’t want to have to keep wearing it, we can talk about options for more long-term treatment.
If you think that a TMJ splint might be right for you, contact TMJ dentist, Dr. Don Lowrance. He sees patients in the Corpus Christi areas.