About a third of our patients we find have either a clenching or grinding habit. Maybe it's this world we live in, kind of stressful and intense but it's really amazing what we can do. Sometimes it's just using a little physical therapy, a lot of times that's our initial approach is to get a patient stretching a little bit, try to get them sleeping a little better. A lot of the newer research is showing that it happens during the lighter forms of sleep so a lot of times the patients that are grinding or clenching their teeth aren't sleeping real well at night. If we can augment their sleeping patterns a little bit, that seems to help. Lastly, we can do something like an occlusal guard. An occlusal guard is good for temporomandibular disorder which is mostly a muscular disorder.
There are other things that can go wrong with a TMJ. If we don't think that it's a muscular disorder, maybe an arthritic disorder or something like that, we'll often refer that to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment. Probably by far the majority of the cases a simple occlusal guard or splint will alleviate a lot of the symptoms. We also find too that just looking at it through the years it's kind of an episodic thing.
It will bother them for a couple of months then it won't bother them for a couple months. The problem is a splint, you can use it when it's bothering you and just take it out when it's not. It's a relatively simple and inexpensive and reliable solution for the majority of TMJ problems.
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