A couple weeks ago we started a poll about splint therapy. We were wondering whether splints have been helpful for your TMJ pain…or did they make it worse? Well, we have the results!
Has Splint Therapy Helped Your TMJ Disorder?
As you can see in the above pie chart, the results were very close.
- 12% of you said that you have not tried splint therapy (we suspect you are the ones that are waiting for a TMJ disorder diagnosis or are early in your treatment)
- 42% said that splints DID help your TMJD
- 47% said that splints did NOT help your TMJ disorder.
What do we think this means for TMJ disorder patients?
Well, we aren’t doctors, of course, but we think it speaks to the huge variation in types of splints, techniques, and expertise. Since there is no board certification for doctors that treat TMJD, anyone can treat it. Maybe if the rules were more strict, there wouldn’t be as much variation? It is hard to say. The other thing is that there have been hardly any studies to show that splints are even helpful for jaw pain. The studies that have been done are either reviewing past literature (stating that it was inadequate), do not use a big enough sample of TMJ patients and controls, or have another huge flaw. This leaves us totally unsure of splint therapy.
With any treatment, splint therapy or otherwise, if it causes increased levels of pain, it is wise to call the doctor and discontinue the treatment until further evaluation. There is absolutely NO need for TMJ disorder treatment to cause more pain. Let me repeat this: TMJ disorder treatment should NOT increase your pain.
At this point, the only thing we can be sure of is that conservative, non invasive treatments are best. Splint therapy that changes the bite and/or creates the need for irreversible treatments like changing the shape of the teeth or orthodontics is not recommended until more research has been done. The National Institute of Health urges that with TMJ disorder, “Less is Best.”
Here at TMJ Hope, we encourage you to research, ask questions, and become a partner in your healthcare. It is always best to question what you don’t understand, not making decisions until every one of your questions is answered.
The more knowledge you gain about your health and TMJD, the more confident you become, and the more able you are to make wise decisions based on that knowledge. By eliminating the fear of the unknown, anxiety is lowered, which improves overall health (both physical and mental). When you are confident, the people around you tend to respond in a more positive and supportive manner. In the end, the increased confidence and support can only have positive results.
There is no cure for TMJ disorder yet. Until there is, it is vital that you as a patient understand your options.
47% of TMJ patients were not helped by splints, 42% found them helpful, and 12% have not tried them – these are mixed results.
How does this poll affect your opinion of splint therapy for TMJ disorder? Tell us in the comments below!
If you are looking for more information on TMJ disorder, read our TMJ Disorder Overview, Self-Care for TMJD, and TMJ Symptoms articles.