• August 22, 2011
  • Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

If all else fails, as it occasionally does in the treatment of the painful but complex condition that is TMJ dysfunction, usually a nightguard (or occlusal splint) is recommended, in most serious cases even in conjunction with mild anti-anxiety medication (to avoid the need for frequent muscle relaxants, which can be addictive and can also build up tolerance). 

Nightguards are made of acrylic, they are custom-designed for your teeth and they are worn at night. If you are unfortunate enough to be suffering from chronic TMJ or muscle dysfunction, you probably feel sometimes as if you are going slightly mad as there is nothing visibly wrong with you, yet you are in constant pain. It helps to know that you are not alone. 

About half of the population suffers from at least occasional symptoms or signs of this condition. As we said in our earlier blogs, treatment of TMJ dysfunction depends on the cause, but often, the most effective and quickest pain relief comes from wearing a nightguard- an acrylic platform, custom fitted to your upper or lower teeth, which keeps your teeth apart at night. This can be made by your dentist and will last you between 5 and 10 years. 

You may also benefit from a multidisciplinary approach, where your dentist collaborates with chiropractors and physiotherapists or even GPs and ENT specialists, to give you a more rounded, more comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. 

Lastly, you may just need to take stock of what it is in your daily life that may be putting you at risk of joint and muscle pain. Maybe your pain is your own body subconsciously fighting against your conscious efforts to bury some tough issues and maybe all you really need is that well-deserved island holiday. 

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh
About The Author

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

Catherine-Anne is a New Zealand-qualified dentist. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Sydney University and she has a broad range of experiences from working in both the public and private sector.


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