General |3 min read

Role of Nightguards in TMJ Management

A woman placing her nightguards

Struggling with TMJ disorders and wondering how to alleviate the pain? 

A nightguard could be a solution.

This blog post offers insights into the different types of nightguards for TMJ disorders. We’ll reveal how these handy devices can provide relief and the crucial steps to choosing and maintaining one. 

Let’s walk you through managing TMJ discomfort with the right nightguard.

What is TMJ?

TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, the hinge connecting your jaw to your skull. When this joint is injured or damaged, it can lead to a localized pain disorder known as a TMJ disorder.

Symptoms of TMJ

Common symptoms of TMJ disorders include jaw pain, difficulty chewing, and joint locking, causing limited jaw movement. Many people with TMJ disorders also experience a clicking sound or grating sensation when opening their mouths or chewing.

What is a nightguard?

A nightguard is a dental device worn during sleep to protect the teeth and jaw. Made of flexible plastic, it creates a barrier between the upper and lower teeth.

How does a nightguard help with TMJ?

Nightguards for TMJ reduce the pressure on the jaw joint and prevent the upper and lower teeth from grinding together – a common issue among TMJ sufferers. 

This reduces strain and can alleviate the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders.

Types of nightguards

Several types of nightguards are available on the market, including over-the-counter options and custom-fit devices designed by dental professionals. The right choice depends on the severity of your TMJ and your personal comfort preferences.

Factors to consider when choosing a nightguard

Material, fit, comfort, and durability should be considered when choosing a nightguard

It’s also essential to consult with a dental professional who can provide guidance based on your specific condition.

How to use a nightguard

Nightguards should be worn consistently each night. Place the guard over your teeth just before sleep, and remove it upon waking.

Maintenance and cleaning of your nightguard

To keep your nightguard in optimal condition, clean it daily with a toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. 

Additionally, store it in a dry, clean case when not in use to protect it from bacteria.

The impact of nightguards on TMJ

Several studies support the effectiveness of these devices in managing TMJ symptoms. Many patients report a significant reduction in pain and improved quality of life with consistent use.


Can a nightguard make TMJ worse?

Nightguards designed correctly and appropriately used shouldn’t make TMJ worse. However, a poorly designed or ill-fitting guard might exacerbate symptoms. Consult with a dental professional to ensure you have the right fit.

How long does it take for a nightguard to help with TMJ?

The time varies among individuals, but many start noticing improvements within a few weeks of consistent use.

Can I wear a nightguard all day for TMJ?

Typically, nightguards are meant for overnight use. If your TMJ symptoms persist throughout the day, consult your dentist about alternative treatments.

How often should I replace my nightguard?

Nightguards can last anywhere from 6 months to a few years, depending on material and usage. Consult with your dentist for a more personalized estimate.

Are over-the-counter nightguards effective for TMJ?

While over-the-counter night guards can provide some relief, custom-fitted guards from a dental professional usually offer better results because of their precise fit.


Using the right nightguard might make managing TMJ much easier.

Although it’s not a cure-all, it can help ease discomfort and improve sleep. 

Everyone’s experience with TMJ is different, so it’s important to discuss any concerns or questions with your dentist.


Lance Collier, DMD, LLC is located in Columbus, GA, and we happily welcome folks from neighboring areas.