How Long Does It Take For A Mouth Guard To Work For TMJ? |
Oral Health

How Long Does It Take For A Mouth Guard To Work For TMJ?


    How long does it take for a mouth guard to work for TMJ

    TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition that plagues millions of people. This disorder affects the joint that connects your jaw to your skull, causing pain and difficulty in jaw movement. Although various treatment methods exist, mouth guards remain a highly effective solution to alleviate TMJ symptoms.

    Unfortunately, patients often abandon the use of mouth guards prematurely. They are unsure when to expect improvements in their TMJ condition and lose the habit of disorder treatment as the progress can only become visible from a few weeks to months. This lack of knowledge leads to discontinuation of a potentially beneficial treatment.

    This article aims to fill that knowledge gap by providing a timeline for how long does a night guard take to work for TMJ symptoms.


    What Is a Night Guard?

    A dental night guard is a device worn to protect the teeth from grinding or clenching during sleep. Mouth guards and night guards are terms often used interchangeably. However, mouth guards are more versatile, serving multiple purposes like teeth protection during contact sports. Night guards specifically target issues like bruxism and TMJ disorders.

    Common scenarios for mouth guard use include sports activities where dental injuries are probable. Night guards, on the other hand, are commonly used by individuals experiencing teeth grinding or TMJ jaw muscles pain at night.

    TMJ guards can be used for other purposes, but usually, these devices are specifically selected for their effectiveness in dealing with TMJ.

    Various materials go into the making of mouth and night guards. Traditionally, dental clinics employ hard acrylic or softer laminate materials. Online night guards also use similar materials and can perform equally well for TMJ. Technological advancements have made it possible to produce high-quality night guards remotely.

    Type of TMJ Mouth Guard Average Price Materials Used Durability Effectiveness in Treating TMJ
    Stock Night Guards $20 Soft Plastic Low Poor
    Boil and Bite Night Guards $50 Thermoform Plastics Moderate Moderate
    Dentist-Made Night Guards $1000 Acrylic or Laminate High Excellent
    Direct to Customer Guards $250 Acrylic or Laminate High Very Good

    Direct-to-customer night guards emerge as the most cost-effective choice for TMJ treatment. They combine the benefits of customization with affordability.

    Though they might not offer the personalized fit you’d get from a dentist’s office, their performance is commendable for treating TMJ disorders. The materials used are of high quality and are equally durable. Therefore, for those looking to balance cost and effective dental treatment, direct-to-customer night guards are an optimal take.

    What is A TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorder?

    The temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. This joint allows you to move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn. A Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, commonly referred to as TMJ occurs when there are issues with the muscles and joints that connect your jawbone to your skull.

    Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD) are a complex group of conditions, numbering more than 30 distinct disorders. These are generally classified into three categories:

    • Joint Disorders: These types of TMD often involve physical issues with the joint itself, like cartilage degradation or misalignment. They are less common but tend to be more severe.
    • Muscle Disorders: This TMD category is more common and includes pain and stiffness in the muscles that control jaw movement. Symptoms are usually less severe but can significantly impact the quality of life.
    • Headaches: TMJ can lead to tension headaches, affecting not just the jaw but the whole cranial area. These are generally moderate in severity but are frequent in occurrence.

    To understand whether you are experiencing TMJ symptoms, it’s essential to pay attention to specific discomforts and anomalies in your jaw and facial area. If you observe any of the following symptoms, further investigation may be necessary:

    • Jaw Pain: The most direct symptom is a persistent ache in the jaw area, including morning jaw pain. You can check for this by applying light pressure on the jaw and observing any discomfort or pain, particularly while chewing.
    • Facial Pain: This can spread to your face. To check, lightly touch different areas of your face and note any sensitivity or pain.
    • Shoulder or Neck Pain: TMJ disorder can lead to referred pain in the shoulders or neck. You can examine this by rotating your neck and shoulders and observing any areas of discomfort.
    • Pain in the Jaw: Your jaw may feel tight and difficult to move. To test, try opening and closing your mouth a few times and notice any resistance or stiffness.
    • Difficulty Opening or Closing the Mouth: In extreme cases, you may even find it challenging to fully open or close your mouth. Try opening your mouth as wide as you can and note any limitations or pain.
    • Jaw Popping or Clicking: A less painful but equally distressing symptom is a clicking or popping sound of the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth. To check, simply open and close your mouth and listen carefully for any such sounds.

    If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to consult a dentistry service provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. While various treatments are available, many doctors often recommend starting with a night guard to alleviate the symptoms, protect teeth, and improve quality of life.

    How Does A TMJ Guard Work?

    A TMJ mouth guard is a carefully engineered dental device designed to alleviate symptoms and root causes of TMJ dysfunction. At the most basic level, a night guard acts as a cushion between your upper and lower teeth. This cushioning effect not only prevents teeth from grinding against each other but also redistributes the force exerted on the teeth.

    As a result, there’s a significant change in how your jaw joints and muscles operate during teeth grinding, which is a disorder occurring unconsciously while sleeping. If you are in search of the best mouth guard for teeth grinding it is likely it will be effective for TMJ in general.

    Reducing the strain on the TMJ joint is another crucial function of a night guard. The cushion acts as a shock absorber, dampening the mechanical forces that can lead to joint degradation or muscle tension. By doing so, the dental guard helps maintain the integrity of your temporomandibular joint, one of the most complex joints in the human body.

    Night guards also promote healthier TMJ joint and jaw positioning. Proper alignment is essential for effective treatment, but for this to happen, the night guard must be well-fitted. A poor fit can exacerbate TMJ symptoms rather than relieve them. To ensure a good fit, impression and molding processes are usually undertaken.

    Dental impressions are typically taken by having you bite into a soft material that hardens into a mold. This mold is then used to custom-make a night guard that matches the contours of your teeth and jaw, ensuring optimal performance and comfort when treating TMJ.

    Understanding the severity and duration of your TMJ symptoms can guide you in selecting the right mouth guard. For chronic TMJ sufferers, a custom-fitted mouth guard would be the most effective long-term solution, as it can handle constant stress and tension.

    If your TMJ pain is acute and less frequent, a boil-and-bite guard or even a stock night guard might suffice for temporary relief and teeth protection. However, consult your healthcare provider for a tailored treatment plan that’s appropriate for you.

    A Timeline Of TMJ Treatment With Mouth Guards

    The journey to relief from TMJ disorders using mouth guards is neither instantaneous nor uniform for all patients. However, it is possible to outline a general timeline describing changes you might expect in your joints, muscles, teeth, shoulders, and neck. It’s crucial to remember that the rate of mouth rehabilitation can vary significantly depending on the patient and his condition’s severity.

    After 24 Hours

    Within the first day of using a mouth guard, a patient will feel a noticeable reduction in teeth grinding. The guard acts as an immediate barrier, offering some level of protection to the teeth. However, significant relief in TMJ joint and muscle discomfort might not be apparent to the patient yet.

    After Three Days

    By the third day, a patient begins to feel a reduction in jaw stiffness and muscle tension. The cushioning effect of the night guard starts to lessen the force exerted on the temporomandibular joint, bringing minor relief. If your teeth are damaged, they might start to heal.

    After One Week

    A few weeks to several months of consistent use often leads to moderate improvements. The TMJ night guard will reduce the mechanical strain on your jaw joint, potentially alleviating some symptoms while you sleep. Teeth are less sensitive, and some may notice less discomfort in the shoulders and neck.

    After Two Weeks

    After two weeks of using the night guard for TMJ, many people report substantial relief. Shoulders and neck feel less tense, and the jaw muscles are noticeably more relaxed. The focus now shifts from symptom management to long-term relief and perhaps even healing. If your teeth roots are damaged, they might start healing.

    After One Month

    Within one month of regular use, the benefits of a well-fitted mouthguard become more apparent. Nightly teeth grinding should have reduced substantially, and you’ll likely find your jaw less stiff in the morning. Chronic sufferers may begin to notice a more significant drop in the frequency of headaches.

    After Half a Year

    Six months (or even three months in some cases) of consistent use is a milestone where several patients report lasting relief. Jaw function may be near normal for some, and muscle and joint pain significantly decreased. Teeth are far less sensitive, and for many, the overall quality of life improves. This signals an almost full recovery.

    After One Year

    A year into treatment, those who have been diligent in using their mouthguards will likely see profound improvements. Nightly teeth grinding may have stopped altogether, and even chronic sufferers might find themselves forgetting they ever had TMJ symptoms.

    Two Years Long Treatment

    After two years, the dental benefits are likely to be sustained, with minimal, if any, symptoms. Jaw function should be normalized, and teeth protected from any further teeth grinding-induced wear.

    Some may experience relief in just a few days, especially if the TMJ disorder is less severe or in its early stages. Others might need several months or even years, particularly if their condition has already done significant damage. In all cases, consult your dental healthcare provider for the best course of action tailored to your specific needs.

    Can a Dental Guard Make Your TMJ Worse?

    A poorly fitted mouth guard will not conform well to the shape of your mouth and teeth, leading to dental misalignment, and placing additional strain on your temporomandibular joint. This misalignment can create a cascading effect, leading to more pain and, in some cases, making your TMJ symptoms worse.

    The poor material quality of a mouthpiece or a night guard may not provide the required cushioning and protection needed for TMJ relief. The result could be a device that fails to absorb the shock effectively, thus failing to alleviate the force exerted on your temporomandibular joint and teeth. 

    Inconsistent use of a mouth guard can lead to fluctuating symptoms, making it challenging to gauge whether your condition is improving or deteriorating. Some people, upon feeling initial relief, might decide to stop using their dental guard, which can lead to symptom relapse and potential worsening of the condition.


    The time it can take for a mouth guard to alleviate TMJ symptoms varies from person to person and depends on the severity of the condition. Some may experience dental relief within days, while others may need months for significant improvements. Consistent use of a well-fitted mouth guard is crucial for effective treatment

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