Few studies have been performed examining the efficacy of occlusal splints — the most common appliance created by dentists to address Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) (aka TMJ Syndrome) — compared to therapeutic focused (temporomandibular joint) TMJ exercises. One study’s (1) results comparing these two interventions were interesting.
Patients with anterior displacement of the TMJ disc were divided into two groups: one group performed a specific TMJ exercise and the other was prescribed a TMJ splint. Four different variables were monitored:
- The Pain-Free Mouth-Opening Range
- The Mouth-Opening Range with Pain
- Maximum Daily Pain Intensity
- Limitation of Daily Functions
After 8 weeks, both treatment groups had significant improvement in all outcome measurements, but the patients in the TMJ exercises group increased their Mouth-Opening Range more than the TMJ splint group.
We recommend the same TMJ exercises used in the study to my TMJ Syndrome patients who have an anteriorly displaced TMJ disc:
- Begin with a warm-up: open and close the mouth slowly and carefully. Not too wide! This movement must be totally pain-free. Repeat 3 times.
- Next, place the middle three fingers’ fingertips on the top edge of your bottom front teeth
- Slowly, pull your mandible (jaw) down just until you begin to feel pain; hold your jaw in this position for 30 seconds.
- Slowly close your jaw and rest for 5 seconds. Your teeth should not be touching during this rest period and your mouth must remain closed.
- You will repeat steps 3 & 4 a total of three times to complete one set.
- Do one set of this exercise 4 times daily. I recommend you do them after each meal and while in the shower or bath.
With consistency, you too will note an improvement in your TMD symptoms. If you do not get satisfactory results, or if your TMJ Syndrome is disrupting your life today, please, call our office and set up an appointment. We can help!