Night Guards

TMJ Relief: Find the Best Mouth Guard for You

mouth guard for TMJ

Understanding TMJ Pain

TMJ pain can be either short-term or long-lasting, affecting the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Short-term pain, known as acute TMJ pain, often occurs suddenly due to injury or strain. On the other hand, chronic TMJ pain persists over time and may result from conditions like arthritis or habitual teeth grinding.

Regardless of its duration, TMJ pain can make everyday activities like eating and talking uncomfortable. Understanding the different causes of TMJ pain helps in finding the right treatment to alleviate discomfort and improve quality of life.

Solutions for TMJ Pain

Mouth guards offer a valuable solution for managing TMJ pain by providing support and protection to the jaw joint. These devices, also known as night guards or occlusal splints, work by cushioning the teeth and preventing them from grinding or clenching during sleep, a common cause of TMJ pain. By reducing the pressure on the jaw joint and promoting proper alignment, mouth guards help alleviate discomfort and muscle tension associated with TMJ disorders.

Additionally, they can be customized to fit the individual’s mouth comfortably, ensuring optimal effectiveness in relieving TMJ symptoms. Incorporating a mouth guard into your nightly routine can significantly improve TMJ pain and enhance overall oral health.

Best Mouth Guard for TMJ

Custom Soft Night Guard

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Original price was: $149.00.Current price is: $129.00.

A study published online in December 2022 investigated the effectiveness of a soft night guard in alleviating symptoms associated with temporomandibular disorders (TMDs). This gentle appliance is designed to provide uniform and simultaneous contact with both sets of teeth, aiming to relieve pain, discomfort, muscle tension, teeth grinding, and clenching.

It can be quickly customized and used as an emergency treatment for individuals experiencing acute TMD symptoms. The study found that the soft night guard was more effective than rigid stability splints in treating TMDs caused by muscle-related issues (myogenous TMDs).

However, its effectiveness was somewhat limited in treating TMDs stemming from joint-related problems (arthrogenous TMDs). In simpler terms, myogenous TMD refers to TMDs primarily caused by muscle tension and dysfunction, while arthrogenous TMD involves issues within the jaw joint itself. Overall, the findings suggest that the soft night guard shows promise as a valuable treatment option, particularly for acute TMD cases and muscle-related symptoms.

defend your teeth against the daily grind graphic

Different Types of Mouth Guards

There are several different mouth guards available on the market, each with their own unique benefits and features. The most common types of mouth guards are:

  1. Stock Mouth Guards: These are pre-made mouth guards that can be purchased at a drugstore. They are usually made of lower quality plastic and come in a one-size-fits-all design. While they are affordable and readily available, they lack a proper fit and are not suitable to help with TMJ issues.
  2. Boil-and-Bite Mouth Guards: These mouth guards are available at drugstores and can be molded to fit the individual’s teeth by boiling them in hot water and then biting down on them. They provide a better fit than stock mouth guards and are more comfortable to wear. Still, these types are not suitable to help with TMJ issues.
  3. Custom-Made Mouth Guards: These mouth guards are made from a dental impression of the individual’s teeth and creates a true custom-fitted mouth guard. These types provide the best fit and are the most comfortable to wear. These mouth guards are more expensive than OTC and boil and bite guards and are made with higher quality materials.

Why a Custom-Made Mouth Guard is the Best Solution

While over-the-counter mouth guards may seem convenient, they often fall short in providing effective relief for TMJ pain. These generic options lack the precise fit and customization needed to address individual jaw structures and symptoms.

As a result, they may cause discomfort, hinder proper jaw alignment, and fail to adequately protect the jaw joint from further damage. In contrast, custom-made mouth guards offer a superior solution for TMJ pain management. Crafted by dental professionals to specifically fit the patient’s mouth, these custom guards ensure optimal comfort, support, and protection. By aligning with the natural contours of the teeth and jaw, custom mouth guards provide superior relief from TMJ pain, promoting better sleep quality and overall well-being.

why custom mouth guards are better for TMJ graphic

Navigating TMJ Treatment: The Role of Specialists and Customized Appliances

TMJ disorders can manifest due to various factors, emphasizing the necessity of an accurate diagnosis. When TMJ issues stem from bite misalignment or other complex dental conditions, seeking the expertise of a TMJ specialist becomes paramount.

These specialists possess advanced training and experience in diagnosing and treating intricate TMJ cases. In situations where standard treatment methods may prove insufficient, a TMJ specialist can customize a specialized TMJ appliance tailored to the individual’s unique needs.

This specialized TMJ appliance, distinct from standard night guards, aims to address specific underlying issues contributing to TMJ dysfunction. Whether crafted by a dentist with expertise in TMJ disorders or directly by a TMJ specialist, these customized appliances offer targeted relief and support, ensuring optimal management of severe TMJ cases. Consulting with a TMJ specialist opens up access to specialized care and innovative solutions tailored to alleviate TMJ-related discomfort and enhance overall oral health.

best night guard for TMJD

tmj bite guard made by dentist

What to expect when you visit a doctor about your TMJ

At a doctors appointment your ENT may have you open and close your jaw and begin feeling the jaw when opened wide and then closed. Depending on their findings, the ENT may put you on muscle relaxers (sometimes a 16 day steroid pack) no gum, and a soft food diet.

best night mouth guard for tmj

A dentist will feel around the jaw as well and may have a similar plan. They may even suggest Botox around the masseter joint though the effectiveness of this action is controversial.

The TMJ could be causing inflammation and can even sometimes be responsible for pulsatile tinnitus. A mouth guard can help greatly but sometimes a “bite guard” is needed. This type of guard is more complex and cannot be ordered online. The bite guard actually moves your teeth into a certain position (see above images). This places your jaw in its intended alignment and will relieve your TMJD.

what is the best night guard for my TMJ

There are multiple reasons why TMJ disorders occur

Causes of TMJ Disruption and Disorders

  • Bruxism (teeth grinding, teeth clenching)
  • Jaw muscles size(s), shape and posture
  • Irregular tooth alignment (crooked or crowded teeth)
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Abnormalities of the intra-articular disk inside of your jaw joint
  • Arthritis and bone disease

A dentist can diagnose your TMJ disorder during an exam. They’ll listen to and feel your jaw as you open and close, pinpointing irregular movements and listen for pops or clicks inside of your joint.

Signs and Symptoms of TMJD

Clicking in your jaw is a common sign of TMJ disorder, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have TMD. Most of the time, if clicks and pops are painless, they’re not a significant problem.

Your dentist will need to examine your mouth and feel certain areas to determine if your TMJ is functioning properly.

If needed, an X-ray or CT scan can be ordered to provide more detailed images of the joint and surrounding structures. Rarely are MRIs needed, but they can be useful if there are significant disk problems or abnormalities.

Fortunately, the path to TMJ relief may be closer than you think!

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

A mouth guard could be the best treatment, depending on the cause and severity of your TMJ disorder.

best mouth guard for teeth grinding

It may take as little as one night wearing your new mouth guard to relieve your jaw pain.

That’s right!

A properly fitted, custom mouth guard can provide instant relief. A mouth guard for TMJ can position your muscles to relax better, providing relief from jaw pain, tooth pain, ear aches, and facial soreness.

Is TMJ pain caused by clenching of the jaw muscles or teeth grinding?

It could be caused by one or both actions. Or it could be stemmed from an entirely separate reason.

For cases of TMJ disorder prompted by uneven or missing teeth (the bite is “off”) another type of procedure may be needed to relieve your symptoms. Depending on the complexity, more aggressive TMJ issues that require more extensive therapies or surgery may take months before you get relief.

Some good news!

TMJ issues can go away with time.

Depending on the person, TMJ pain in the teeth and jaw muscles may only last a brief period and then disappear on its own.

How do mouth guards for TMJ help?

The mouth guard prevents the teeth from making direct contact with each other and your muscles from fully contracting.

Mouth guards are useful for muscle pain relief when it comes to the ones responsible for chewing and clenching. The disruption in contact and muscle contraction “forces” your jaw and teeth into a relaxed position. As a result, the condyles (extensions off your mandible, near the TMJ) can rest in a centric position.

  • Relaxes muscles
  • Reduces TMJ constrictions
  • Eases pain and discomfort
  • Helps with limited range of motion (in some cases)

A TMJ mouth guard is typically fabricated out of hard acrylic or acrylic-like material, so that it can withstand everyday wear and tear for long periods of time. If you’re wondering how long it takes for a mouth guard for TMJ to work, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that most often the symptoms start to decrease in as little as one nights’ use.

What happens if I don’t wear a TMJ mouth guard?

Sometimes, problems relating to TMD tend to compound and get worse, rather than resolve on their own. If the TMJD is caused by teeth grinding or clenching, the constant wear and tear can make you vulnerable to gum recession, enamel wear and broken dental work.

Teeth grinders that are experiencing pain upon waking should protect the teeth at night with a custom night guard.

Consider joining an online support community.

Because so many people live with TMJ disorder, there are several online community support groups for TMD where people discuss what has worked (or hasn’t) in managing this difficult, uncomfortable diagnosis.


In conclusion, addressing TMJ pain is essential for maintaining oral health and enhancing overall quality of life. Understanding the causes of TMJ pain, whether acute or chronic, is crucial in finding effective treatment options. Among these solutions, custom-made mouth guards stand out as the most reliable choice for alleviating TMJ discomfort.

While over-the-counter options may seem convenient, they often lack the precision and comfort needed to effectively relieve TMJ symptoms. Custom mouth guards, tailored to fit the individual’s mouth perfectly, offer superior support, protection, and relief from TMJ pain. By investing in a custom-made mouth guard, individuals can experience improved sleep, reduced muscle tension, and enhanced oral health, ultimately leading to a better quality of life.

End TMJ Pain Now: Order Your Custom Mouth Guard Today!

This article was last updated on May 15th, 2024 to ensure it reflects the latest information on TMJ and mouth guard treatments.


sentinel mouthguards author
Ashely Notarmaso

Ashely Notarmaso is the author behind the Sentinel Mouth Guard Blog. She is the CEO and founder of Sentinel Mouth Guards (Founded in 2012) Her long-time work in the dental mouth guard arena and her excellent ability to listen to customer concerns in this often contradictory field has laid the groundwork to explore night guard/mouth guard fabrication in-depth and address real concerns. With the help of her team, she has created a unique fabrication method that promises a great fitting custom oral appliance every time. Amazon’s choice for #1 mouth guard! Visit the online store

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Medically verified by: Sharon Boyd, MA, BS, RDH

Registered Dental Hygienist Issuing authority Texas State Board of Dental Examiners
Texas Tech University

Sharon Boyd, MA, BS, RDH is a dental writer since 2011, specializing in web content, blogs, editing, proofreading, ghostwriting, white papers, e-book curation, patient educational resources/brochures, and professional development materials. Masters Degree in Strategic Communication 15 years as a Registered Dental Hygienist Degree in Human Relations and Business