The answer is NO! Patients frequently come into the office asking this question, so TMJ Dentist Dr. Konig wants to address this concern. Many times patients are treated with large appliances/splints to help with their TMJ issues. Fortunately, these appliances do sometimes help relieve or decrease patients TMJ pain. Most of these splints are arbitrarily placed, meaning there is no physiological method used to decide where or how to make this splint.
Many patients have large removable splints that impair their speech and are not practical to wear all the time. There are definitely different ways to treat these patients and they do not have to live with their TMJ splints their entire lives. So the answer is no, you do not have to live with TMJ splints your entire life.
Treating TMJ with physiologic methods or neuromuscular dentistry is a way to provide long-term stability. Consider the two distinct phases to TMJ treatment:
Phase I: Finding the correct physiologic position for the jaw
-This is not an arbitrary position
-Nothing permanent should be done in this phase
-Comfortable and stable muscles can be proved with computer assisted measurements
-Verification of jaw joint position with 3D scans
Phase II: Long term stabilization
-When patient is comfortable and has normal function then phase II can totally eliminate the splint
-Treatment for phase II can be bite adjustment or orthodontic treatment to move the teeth to position found or restorative care
-All treatment is verified with computer assisted care to ascertain the muscles and joints stay in the correct physiologic position for comfort and health
What happens when patients with degenerative joints take out their appliances, their jaw joint and muscles return to the pathologic position that originally caused their pain. Please note that not all patients need phase II. Each case is different and should be analyzed individually.
In our office, we have patients that need phase II treatment and those who do not. There are conservative non-surgical solutions to help eliminate permanent splint placement.