Choosing Athletic Mouth Guards When You Have TMD

Your teeth are a valuable asset. Not only do they make up your smile and facial features, but you need them for eating, talking, and daily life. For this reason, it’s important to protect your teeth when participating in an activity where the teeth could be damaged, such as contact sports.

Thankfully, athletic mouth guards offer a safe and simple way for athletes to protect their teeth from an impact while playing sports. There’s just one problem with many of these guards: they could be doing more harm than good for your TMJ.

Protecting Teeth at the Jaw’s Expense

An athletic mouth guard — whether for yourself or your child — should be chosen with care. Though many can be easily purchased at mainstream stores, some are not the best choice for someone with a temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Many store-bought athletic mouth guards are not custom made for your mouth, which means they could throw your bite and TMJ out of alignment with repeated use. This leads to a number of uncomfortable symptoms of TMD, such as:

  • Headaches

  • Jaw pain

  • Neck or back pain

  • Jaw stiffness

  • Facial pain

How to Protect Your Teeth and TMJ

To keep teeth protected during sports without aggravating TMD, here’s what you should do:

  • If you already have an athletic mouth guard, make an appointment with MedCenter TMJ and bring it with you to your appointment. We can evaluate how it fits your teeth and whether it’s the right fit for your TMJ.

  • Only wear your bite guard when needed. Take it out as soon as possible after games or practices.

  • Be on the lookout for the TMD symptoms listed above. If you notice them after wearing the mouth guard, it’s time to think about getting a better guard to suit your needs and keep your TMD from getting worse.

  • Visit MedCenter TMJ for a complete TMJ evaluation and to get recommendations for a custom-made mouth guard that works for you.

A Word About Nighttime Splints

Many people wear a bite splint at night to protect teeth from grinding. While this is a great concept in theory, many of these bite splints can actually be harming the jaw, perpetuating a cycle of pain and more TMD symptoms. Most people who wear these splints simply grind harder, leading to more TMJ fatigue, strain, and inflammation.

Treating grinding and TMD takes more than wearing a splint at night. A comprehensive treatment plan that addresses your unique causes of TMD is necessary to control its symptoms and get you on the path to healing. At MedCenter TMJ, that’s what our patients receive. So before you purchase a bite splint, talk to our professional staff to find out why you have TMD and what kind of splint would be best for you.

Do you need an athletic mouth guard or a nighttime bite splint? Contact MedCenter TMJ to find out how we can help you protect your teeth from injury and keep your jaw healthy at the same time.

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