Oral Appliance Therapy: What It Is and Why It’s Important
An oral appliance can relieve symptoms of TMJ disorder by preventing your teeth from grinding as you sleep. A custom oral appliance from Fairfax Family Dental Care in Fairfax, VA, is more comfortable and effective than a store-bought mouth guard. Oral appliance therapy provides a non-invasive, conservative method for eliminating jaw pain and improving dental function.
What Is Oral Appliance Therapy?
Oral appliance therapy is a noninvasive form of treatment used to address conditions like TMJ disorder, teeth grinding, and sleep apnea. Rather than undergoing jaw surgery or wearing a cumbersome CPAP machine, the patient is fitted with a customized mouthpiece.
For patients with sleep apnea, the mouthpiece aligns the jaw in such a way that the airway is opened for smooth and uninterrupted breathing. When teeth grinding or jaw clenching is the source of your problems, a mouthpiece can protect the teeth and relax the jaw while you sleep. There are even mouthpieces that help correct jaw alignment and reverse TMJ disorder.
If you have been diagnosed with a minor case of bruxism, TMJ disorder, or sleep apnea, you may be a good candidate for oral appliance therapy. Treating these conditions in their early stages can help prevent more serious health issues and costly procedures.
How Oral Appliances Can Treat TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorder affects over 3 million Americans each year. This painful jaw condition causes inflammation in the temporomandibular joints which connect the upper and lower jaw. When these hinge joints are thrown out of alignment or inflamed, symptoms can range from headaches and toothaches to debilitating jaw pain. Some patients may even find it difficult to eat, talk, or open and close their mouth smoothly.
If TMJ disorder or bruxism is detected during an examination, the doctor will take impressions of your bite to create a custom oral appliance that fits comfortably over your top or bottom teeth. Not only will the oral appliance keep you from grinding your teeth, but it can alleviate pressure on your jaw joints. When they are worn consistently during sleep, patients are able to experience immediate relief.
In addition to oral appliance therapy, your doctor may recommend other lifestyle adjustments, such as:
- Stress reduction
- Chewing softer foods
- Avoiding gum
- Physical therapy exercises
In combination with these measures, an oral appliance can successfully eliminate many of the symptoms associated with TMJ disorder.
Benefits of Customized Oral Appliances
Although store-bought mouth guards are readily available and have a lower initial cost, receiving a custom oral appliance from Fairfax Family Dental Care provides many great benefits, including:
- More comfortable treatment: Each mouth guard is custom-made from quality materials to fit the patient’s mouth, minimizing the risk of discomfort caused by an ill-fitting appliance.
- More effective results: Because the appliance is made to fit the patient’s unique needs, treatment is tailored and the results are more effective.
- Insurance coverage: When an oral appliance is considered a medical necessity, it is generally covered by insurance.
By choosing oral appliance therapy early on, you can reduce your risk of costly and extensive restorative dental treatments.
Call Us Today
If you are suffering from jaw pain but are looking for a conservative form of treatment, oral appliance therapy may be the best treatment for you. Contact our office today online or by calling (703) 385-0303 to book your consultation.