Mouthguards come in various different shapes and colors and other unique features. Most commonly they are used to guard the teeth as the name suggests. When indicated for jaw pain or headaches, mouthguards are designed a little differently so they can help alter the mechanics of the jaw muscles and the joint. The exact mechanism by which they improve so many jaw symptoms is not well known but it is thought that a strong mechanism of mouthguard could be behavior modification. This is especially important as several patients think that because mouthguards improved their symptoms do dramatically, there is a problem with their jaw alignment. There is very little to no scientific proof that jaw alignment is to be blamed for common TMJ symptoms.
Do I need to see a TMJ specialist for a mouthguard?
A short answer is NO. But it all depends on the symptoms and objective signs. A residency trained TMJ specialist is critical for diagnosing and if symptoms have been ongoing for more than a few weeks and not getting better, consultation with a TMJ specialist is definitely worthwhile.