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The Difference Between Mouthguards and DTR For TMJ/TMD Therapy

Posted by Hyungsup Lee May 02, 2020

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Mouthguards are a very common prescribed treatment for TMJ disorder/TMD, and while they are great for keeping your teeth safe while playing sports, they are woefully unable to help most people suffering from chronic jaw and head pain caused by TMD. Here at Advanced Dental Arts NW, we instead use DTR (Disclusion Time Reduction) therapy to identify the source of the problem and solve it with extreme precision to provide a lifetime of relief instead of lacking, temporary alleviation. So, why is DTR therapy so superior compared to mouthguards when it comes to TMJ treatment in Portland? You can find out exactly why below.

How Mouthguards Treat TMJ Pain

Here’s a situation you may be familiar with. A patient walks into a dentist’s office complaining of jaw pain and headaches, and after a quick exam, the dentist determines they are dealing with TMJ disorder. The dentist knows this has something to do with the position of the teeth and how they come together to form the bite, so they take an impression using carbon paper, a downright ancient method compared to the rest of the technology in the office. This is then used to design a mouthguard, which is supposed to put the jaw into a more natural and relaxed position, thus relieving the pain.

While this situation plays out countless times in dental offices across America every day, that doesn’t make it right. There are several serious issues, such as:

  • The root source of most TMJ-related pain is the jaw muscles overworking due to a misaligned bite, which mouthguards do not address.
  • A mouthguard only works as long as a patient is wearing it, which for most, is just while they sleep. That means, for the majority of the day, the bite and muscles are functioning incorrectly and contributing to discomfort.
  • Mouthguards do nothing to fix the underlying cause of TMJ pain, and they actually force the jaw muscles into a new position, which can create its own set of problems.
  • Using carbon paper to measure the bite is highly inaccurate and does not provide any type of useable data or indicate a clear end goal for treatment.  

How DTR Treats TMJ Pain

Here’s a new scenario: a patient with untreated TMD walks into a dentist’s office who offers DTR therapy. After listening to the patient, the dentist uses state-of-thea-rt computers to evaluate their bite and measure the position of their teeth, which reveals how they touch and how this activates the muscles of the jaw down to the finest details. Unlike a static impression, this form of occlusal analysis shows how the bite works in real time while in motion, and multiple graphs and readouts are generated, allowing the dentist to easily see where the teeth are not lining up and how this may lead to strain in the adjacent muscles.

Using this information, the dentist then makes minor adjustments to the teeth so that the bite comes together smoothly and properly. As a result, the muscles of the jaw do not overwork and stay relaxed. Not only is the pain gone, but it stays gone, and a patient does not have to do anything else besides enjoy their newfound relief! That is what can be expected when pursuing DTR therapy.

What Have We Learned?

The scene above is one that has played out many times here at ADANW, and it clearly shows us some of the biggest advantages of DTR therapy compared to mouthguards:

  • The method of measuring the bite is much more accurate and thorough.
  • The data gathered by the computerized occlusal analysis enables a dentist to clearly see what changes need to be made to a patient’s bite.
  • DTR therapy directly addresses the source of TMJ-related pain, i.e. it calms strained jaw muscles due to a misaligned bite.
  • Unlike mouthguards, DTR therapy permanently fixes the problem.

If you were taking your car to a mechanic, would you want them to just look up how to fix it on the internet, or would you rather they use the latest technology and computers to evaluate and repair your engine with confident expertise? With one, all you can do is hopefor a positive shot in the adrk, but with the other, you are guaranteed to know exactly what is wrong and get what you need to address it. Thisis the same as the difference between mouthguards and DTR therapy, and in the end, there really is no comparison!

About the Author

Dr. Russ Teasdale is a highly experienced TMJ dentist in Portland who has been practicing since 1981, and he is the only one in the area who is trained and certified to provide DTR therapy. If you have been diagnosed with TMD and have not found relief using a mouthguard, you are far from alone, and Dr. Teasdale is more than ready to help. To learn more about DTR therapy and how it can provide lasting relief for chronic head and neck pain, contact ADANW today to schedule an appointment.

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