If your dentist discovers that you have TMJ disorder, he or she will likely want to make a TMJ splint for your jaw. But for the splint to work, you will not only need to wear it properly and follow up with your dentist, but you will also need to care for your splint.
TMJ Splints Must Be Adjusted
The TMJ splint will usually need to be adjusted as often as every two weeks due to changes in the indentation and in the grinding movements of your jaw. If there are no significant movements seen in the jaw, the adjustments can then become less frequent. The splints must be adjusted to ensure that there is equal contact on all of the teeth.
Removing and Replacing the Splint
Remove the TMJ splint by placing your fingers on the edges of the splint under the plastic. Pull up gently until there is a snap and the splint dislodges from your teeth. To put the TMJ splint in your mouth, first make sure that the splint is correctly aligned. Use both your thumbs and forefingers to push the splint into place. There should be a pop as the splint snaps into place. Then, if you pull on the splint gently, it should not be easy to remove.
Wearing the Splint Reguarly
Your dentist will instruct you on when you should wear your TMJ splint. You will most often need to wear your TMJ splint at night, since it can also protect your jaw from grinding. Whether you should wear the splint during the day is based on the opinion of your dentist, since each jaw is different. If you are told to wear the splint all the time, only take it out to brush your teeth or when you are eating.
Talking with the Splint
The splint can interfere with your ability to talk more clearly. However, with practice, you can become accustomed to speaking with a TMJ splint. Reading a book or article aloud can help you speak more clearly.
Cleaning the Splint
Cleaning the splint is essential since it can otherwise harbor bacteria. Your dentist will often provide you with a brush for cleaning off your splint. Your splint may begin to have an odor and may also become stained by the food residue still in your mouth. Create a solution of one part vinegar and one part water. Place the splint in this solution to clean it.
In addition to wearing the splint, you can further treat your TMJ by training yourself to keep your teeth apart at all times. Clenching your teeth on the splint can cause pain and can also slow down the healing process. Getting the TMJ splint is the first step toward correcting your jaw disorder, but wearing the splint properly will speed up the process.
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