You may have come across an individual who wears a mouthguard to bed. You were shocked. Right? Well, that was not a mouth guard; chances are that it was either a TMJ splint or night guard.
TMJ splint and night guard are usually changed interchangeably but are two different dental devices.
The night guard is more common and is what you probably thought was a mouth guard. On the other hand, a TMJ splint is less known and could confuse you for a night guard. So, differentiating the two is essential when a doctor recommends one for you.
In this article, we will discuss the difference between a night guard and a TMJ splint and their uses.
What is the difference between a Splint and a Night Guard?
Before we define the two, you need to know that a night guard is a type of splint. So all night guards are TMJ splints but not all TMJ splints are night guards.
TMJ splints are dental devices used to deal with TMJ or TMD.
What is TMJ or TMD?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and TMD means temporomandibular joint disorder. The terms mean a condition where your jaw joint dysfunctions and leads to:
- jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Clicking and locking jaw joints
- Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
The disorder is usually hard to detect as the symptoms seem unrelated. However, it is linked to jaw joint injury, connective tissue diseases, bruxism, arthritis etc.
The various types of splints used to deal with TMJ include:
- Stabilization Splint: It is also called a permissive splint and is used to prevent harmful and painful contact between teeth and jaw joints.
- Repositioning Splint: It is used to reposition the jaw for alignment. It also has indentations that prevent the teeth from gliding across the occlusal (bite) plane.
NTI-tss Device: It is placed on the top front teeth to prevent clenching and grinding. It reduces migraines and headaches related to TMJ.
What is a Night Guard?
A night guard is a special splint used to deal with bruxism. It is sometimes used before a TMJ splint when the bruxism leads to TMJ.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a condition that involves an individual grinding their upper and lower teeth against each other. It is a common condition that usually happens at night.
Bruxism is characterized by:
- Tooth Sensitivity
- Tooth pain
- Ear pain
- Fatigue from sleeplessness
- Some oral issues
There is no clear cause of bruxism, but it is associated with anxiety, stress, some medication, dementia, sleep apnea etc.
The types of guards that a doctor may prescribe to you include:
- Soft Night Guards: These are made from soft, squishy rubber material and are used for mild bruxism.
- Hybrid Night Guards: These feature soft insides and hard outsides. So it provides a soft interior and strong barrier on the biting surface. They are best for moderate to heavy bruxism.
- Hard Night Guard: These are made from hard acrylic inside and outside. They are recommended for individuals with severe cases of bruxism.
Use your TMJ Splint and Night Guard Correctly
Pain, soreness, and uneasiness around your jaws could signify either TMJ, bruxism or both. The two have similar characteristics, and it is crucial to have a doctor check you out and recommend a solution.