This is a frequent question that many of our TMJ patients come in with. They often come to our office with a “splint” that they cannot speak with and has not helped them as much as they had hoped or they are feeling better but do not want to live with the splint in their mouth.
Lets answer this question by dividing this into two types of TMJ problems:
1) Purely muscular TMJ pain
2) Joint problem TMJ such as popping or degenerative changes in the joint
If patients have purely muscular issues some times a bite adjustment using computer assisted equipment will suffice. If you are dealing with a joint problems, then a second phase of treatment is usually necessary. The second phase can include the of porcelain to build up some teeth, orthodontics, bite adjustments or a combination of these.
It is imperative to understand that TMJ splints should not be arbitrary. The final splint needs to position the teeth, joints, and muscles in the correct place for comfort and long term stabilization. This where neuromuscular dentistry differs from conventional treatment. Additionally, the goal of a neuromuscular appliance is to find the correct position for all three components then find the best way to get the teeth to this stable and comfortable position. You can also find more information about TMJ on WebMD.
In short, no, you do not have to wear a splint the rest of your life.