Night Guards, TMJ
Plymouth, MN

Welcome to relief: our Night Guards and TMJ treatments are specifically designed to alleviate discomfort and protect your jaw from further stress

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Table of Contents

Over 10 million people suffer from TMJ disorders in the United States alone. TMJ can cause discomfort, lousy sleep, and lack of jaw function. This disorder presents itself in dozens of ways and has a few viable solutions. At Smile Design, we want to put the power of the perfect smile in your hands. 


TMJ Disorders

TMJ disorders relate to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in the jaw and the surrounding nerves and muscles. The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw to the skull and aids in eating, talking, and yawning. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can disrupt these activities.



People with TMD can experience a wide range of symptoms, which can vary in severity and may affect one or both sides of the face. Common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain or tenderness: Persistent pain or tenderness in the jaw joint may worsen with jaw movement. Pain and tenderness can extend to the face, neck, or shoulders.
  • Difficulty chewing: Discomfort or pain while chewing, leading to limited jaw movement or locking of the jaw.
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw can make it difficult to open or close the mouth.
  • Clicking or popping sounds: Audible clicking, popping, or grating when opening or closing the mouth.
  • Muscle stiffness: Stiffness or muscle spasms in the jaw muscles, neck, or face.
  • Ear-related symptoms: Earaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), or a sensation of plugged ears with no underlying problems.
  • Headaches: Recurring headaches, including migraines, often concentrated around the temples.
  • Facial discomfort: Facial pain or discomfort, particularly in the cheeks or along the jawline.
  • Swelling on the side of the face.
  • Dizziness and vision problems in some cases.
  • Facial muscle fatigue, or feeling tired in the face and jaw.



Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) can be caused by a single problem or a combination of problems, including:

  • Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Chronic clenching or teeth grinding, especially during sleep, can strain the TMJ and surrounding muscles.
  • Jaw Injury: Physical trauma to the jaw or TMJ can lead to TMD. This includes blows to the face or accidents that damage the bones, muscles, or ligaments in the jaw area.
  • Teeth Grinding or Clenching (Bruxism): Habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth, especially during sleep, can put excessive pressure on the TMJ, leading to discomfort and dysfunction.
  • Arthritis: Various forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, can affect the TMJ, causing degeneration or inflammation of the joint.
  • Stress: Emotional or psychological stress can lead to behaviors such as teeth clenching or jaw tightening, which can exacerbate TMD symptoms.
  • Misalignment of Teeth or Jaw: Abnormalities in the alignment of teeth or the jaw can contribute to improper joint function and muscle strain, leading to TMD.
  • Poor Posture: Chronic neck and shoulder tension from poor posture can affect the muscles around the jaw and neck, indirectly affecting TMJ function.
  • Disc Displacement: The TMJ includes a soft disc between the ball and the joint’s socket, allowing smooth movement. This disc can become displaced, leading to clicking, popping, or locking the jaw.
  • Connective Tissue Diseases: Diseases that affect the body’s connective tissues can impact the TMJ and its functionality.
  • Habitual Gum Chewing or Nail Biting: These repetitive habits can strain the jaw muscles and joints, leading to TMD.
  • Genetics: Some people may be genetically predisposed to developing TMD, suggesting that genetic factors can affect the condition’s onset.


How Does TMD Impact Your Life?

TMJ disorders can impact an individual’s quality of life, leading to discomfort and functional limitations where the jaw locks or does not have a consistent range of motion.  These disorders often have a negative psychological impact due to chronic pain and functional limitations. People suffering from TMJ disorders can develop anxiety or depression from social situations and the pain created.

TMD can impact an individual’s quality of life in many ways. Symptoms such as sleep deprivation, discomfort, and limited jaw function can escalate to more severe issues, including persistent, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and deterioration of connective tissue.

At Smile Design, Bruxism is one of the most common symptoms in clients with temporomandibular joint issues. To treat Bruxism (aka severe teeth grinding), we recommend:

  • Physical therapy to relieve muscle tension
  • Mouthguards (Night Guards) or splints to protect teeth when you’re asleep,
  • Anxiety medication and other stress-reducing techniques, 
  • Lifestyle changes to reduce the pains and pressures of a TMJ disorder.


A holistic approach to treating bruxism and TMJ issues can help people manage their symptoms and maintain better oral health.


Types of Night Guards

Night guards, also known as dental guards or mouth guards, are protective devices worn in the mouth to prevent or reduce the damaging effects of teeth grinding (bruxism) and to alleviate the symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). Many types of night guards are available on the market, varying in material, construction, fit, and purpose. At Smile Design, we can help you decide which Night Guard best supports your needs and resolves the severity of your symptoms.


Soft Night Guards

Made from soft and flexible materials, they provide a barrier between the teeth, which negates the grinding effects of bruxism. Since they are softer than other types, they may wear out faster and may not be suitable for severe bruxism.


Dual Laminate Night Guards:

They are made of a soft inner layer and a tough outer layer.  They combine the benefits of soft and hard night guards, making them suitable for individuals with moderate to severe bruxism. 


Hard Night Guards

Made from rigid acrylic or similar materials, they offer maximum protection. They are resistant to wear, making them suitable for severe bruxism. Some individuals may find them less comfortable initially, but they adapt to the fit.


What are the Benefits of the Different Types of Night Guards?


Soft Night Guards:

  • Material & Construction: Made from a soft, flexible material that cushions the teeth.
  • Best For: Mild bruxism and users who find harder materials uncomfortable.
  • Considerations: While they may be more comfortable for some, they may offer less protection against severe grinding and wear out more quickly.


Hard Night Guards:

  • Material & Construction: These are crafted from rigid acrylic, which offers a firm barrier between the upper and lower teeth.
  • Best For: Severe cases of bruxism and TMD, as they provide significant protection and can be adjusted for a precise fit.
  • Considerations: They are more durable but can be less comfortable than softer alternatives. They require a precise fit to avoid discomfort or bite issues.


Dual Laminate Night Guards:

  • Material & Construction: Feature a hard outer layer for durability and a soft inner layer for comfort, combining the advantages of both soft and hard materials.
  • Best For: Moderate to severe bruxism, balancing protection and comfort.

Considerations: They can accommodate more severe grinding without sacrificing as much comfort, but they might be bulkier than single-material options.

Crowns & Bridges

Transform your smile with our Dental Crowns and Bridges! Whether you need to strengthen a damaged tooth or replace a missing one, our expert team will provide personalized care to restore your smile. Schedule a consultation today to discover how dental crowns and bridges can enhance oral health and confidence!

Over-the-counter (OTC) Night Guards

  • Material & Construction: Typically made from a thermoplastic material that softens in hot water and is then molded to fit the teeth.
  • Best For: Temporary relief for mild bruxism or for individuals waiting for a custom-fitted guard.
  • Considerations: They offer a generic fit that might not be as comfortable or effective as custom-fitted options. They may also be less durable.


Custom-Fitted Night Guards

  • Material & Construction: They can be made from soft, rigid, or dual laminate materials and are custom-fitted to the individual’s mouth for optimal comfort and protection.
  • Best For: All levels of bruxism and TMD, as they are tailored to the specific needs and anatomy of the user.
  • Considerations: They are the most effective at preventing damage from grinding and alleviating TMD symptoms but are also the most expensive option since they require professional fitting by a dentist.


Custom-fit vs. Store-bought Models:

Custom-fit Night Guards:

  • Fabrication: Created based on impressions of the individual’s teeth.
  • Comfort: They offer superior comfort and effectiveness, tailored to the individual’s dentition.
  • Cost: Custom-fit night guards are more expensive due to the personalized fabrication process.
  • Durability: They are long-lasting, providing reliable protection against bruxism.


Store-bought Night Guards:

  • Convenience: Available over the counter at pharmacies or online stores.
  • Affordability: They are more affordable.
  • Fit: They provide a different comfort and protection than custom-fit.
  • Durability: Need to be replaced frequently.


Benefits of Night Guards for TMJ

The most immediate benefit of a night guard is the relief from discomfort. They cushion the jaw and surrounding muscles.


Prevention of Tooth Damage

Night guards distribute biting forces evenly and cushion the impact of tooth grinding. This prevents chipping and preserves the teeth.


Improved Sleep Quality

Night guards soften the sound and impact of grinding, minimizing disturbances and making for uninterrupted sleep.


Return of Functionality

The popping and locking of the jaw caused by bruxism will begin to ease and eventually disappear due to a night guard.


Easing Discomfort

A night guard will also ease discomfort caused by TMJ disorders, making for a more uncomplicated night and a more leisurely day.


Maintenance and Care for Night Guards


Cleaning and Storage

  • Daily Cleaning: Rinse the night guard with cool water every morning. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild soap or denture cleaner. Avoid using hot water, as it can warp the material.
  • Disinfection: Periodically disinfect the night guard. Soak it in a solution of equal parts water and vinegar or hydrogen peroxide for 15-30 minutes, then rinse.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using abrasive cleaners, bleach, or alcohol-based products.
  • Proper Storage: When not in use, store the night guard in a clean, dry container. Choose a well-ventilated case to avoid moisture buildup.


Common Mistakes:

  • Skipping Cleaning: Neglecting the night guard can lead to bacterial growth, unpleasant odors, and potential oral health issues. 
  • Using Hot Water: Use cool or lukewarm water for cleaning and disinfection.
  • Exposure to Sunlight: Direct sunlight can degrade the material, causing it to become brittle or discolored. 


Bottom Line

Bruxism and TMJ disorders cause pain and discomfort. If you relate to these symptoms and are ready to begin your journey to a pain-free and beautiful smile, contact our team at Smile Design.



How do I choose the best night guard for TMJ?

When choosing the right Night Guard for you, consult a dental professional who can recommend the best option based on the severity of your condition, whether it’s a soft, dual laminate, or hard night guard. Though more expensive, custom-fitted guards offer a precise fit and effective relief for TMJ symptoms compared to over-the-counter options. Consider your comfort, the durability of the guard, and your budget (including insurance coverage) to ensure consistent use and optimal protection for your jaw.


Can night guards cure TMJ disorders?

Night Guards cannot cure Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) as TMD is a complex condition with various underlying causes, but they can significantly alleviate the symptoms associated with TMD. Night Guards help by reducing stress on the jaw, preventing teeth grinding and clenching, and minimizing muscle tension, which can contribute to the discomfort and pain of TMD. 


Can TMD go away on its own?

Some mild cases of TMD may improve without treatment. However, persistent or severe symptoms require professional evaluation and may need targeted treatment to prevent worsening.


How do I know if I need a night guard for TMD?

If you experience symptoms like jaw pain, frequent headaches, teeth grinding, or wear on your teeth, a night guard might help. Consult with a dental professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.


How long does it take to adjust to wearing a night guard?

The adjustment period can vary, but most people become accustomed to their night guard within a few weeks. Regular use is key to increased comfort and symptom relief.


Will my insurance cover the cost of a night guard?

Insurance coverage for night guards varies by plan and provider, with some plans covering custom-fitted night guards if deemed medically necessary. It’s best to check with your insurance provider.

Before & After Photos

Say Goodbye to Jaw Pain – Schedule Your TMJ Consultation Today!