Consumer Survey Indicates Mouth Guards Worsen TMJ Symptoms As Often As Significantly Improving Them – Holistic Technologies

In survey completed March 19, 2013, one thousand consumers shared how well mouth guards worked for them. Mouth guards are supposed to help by protecting teeth, but the survey shows mouth guards can actually make TMJ-disorder-related pain worse.

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Pie chart showing percentages of consumers that found mouth guards helped some, made things worse, helped significantly, and made no difference

Mouth Guard Efficacy Experienced By Consumers

Mouth guards protect tooth enamel well, but nighttime biofeedback is about four times as effective at preventing TMJ-related pain

Arlington, MA (PRWEB) March 30, 2013

Dentists recommend mouth guards more often than any other treatment for dealing with TMJ disorder problems. A recent Holistic Technologies phone survey of dentists in Boston, New York, and Chicago found that the average price for a dentist-made mouth guard in metropolitan areas in the US is over $700. That makes mouth guards very profitable for dentists, but how effective are mouth guards, and what are they effective at? TMJ disorder sufferers who participated in a Holistic Technologies on-line survey completed March 19, 2013 rated the effectiveness of mouth guards at reducing various pain symptoms associated with TMJ disorder. Only 12% of consumers said they received significant TMJ pain relief from wearing a mouth guard, while a similar percentage (10%) said that using a mouth guard made their pain worse.

"Mouth guards do a good job of protecting against tooth enamel wear from teeth grinding, but the majority of pain that TMJ disorder sufferers experience stems not from enamel wear, but from the ongoing nightly tissue damage done by nighttime teeth clenching," says Lee Weinstein, CEO of Holistic Technologies. Typical pain symptoms experienced by TMJ disorder sufferers include jaw pain, tooth pain, facial pain, muscle pain, temporomandibular joint pain, migraines, headaches, sinus pain, and ear pain. "Some of these types of pain come directly from tissue damage done by nighttime clenching", explains Weinstein, "and all the other types of pain result indirectly." The attached pain etiology chart shows how many types of pain experienced by TMJ sufferers result from teeth clenching, which most often happens during sleep.

"It is understandable that most people go to a dentist when they experience TMJ-disorder-related pain. Unfortunately, while dentists are trained to repair and protect the teeth, they are typically not trained in the nature of addictions, and the underlying behavior that causes the pain associated with TMJ disorder is addictive nighttime teeth clenching. Nighttime clenching is typically not considered and not measured by dentists. Dentists usually don’t even know that it can be easily measured, and that the behavior can be reduced through nighttime biofeedback. "Nighttime biofeedback facilitates a significant reduction in TMJ-disorder-related pain for over 44% of users," says Weinstein. "Mouth guards protect tooth enamel well, but nighttime biofeedback is about four times as effective at preventing TMJ-related pain. The SleepGuard biofeedback headband has been available for over ten years, but dentists have been very resistant to adopting nighttime biofeedback as a treatment modality. For every 100 people who tell their dentist about the great results they got from the SleepGuard biofeedback headband, only one dentist calls or e-mails for information. It is FDA-approved and teeth grinding clinical trial proven, but is nowhere near as profitable as mouth guards."

Migraines are one of the most severe and debilitating types of pain associated with TMJ disorder, and one of the least amenable to being treated by mouth guards. The first research paper published that noted the co-morbidity between TMJ disorder and migraines postulated that migraines caused TMJ disorder by promoting teeth clenching, but the great success of the biofeedback headband in allowing TMJ disorder sufferers to eliminate their migraines by reducing their nighttime clenching shows that the causation is the other way around. It now appears that nighttime teeth clenching is a major trigger for migraines. Brain scan research done by Dr. Alex DaSilva in 2007 on chronic migraine sufferers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), supports this. DaSilva found that the brain structure of chronic migraine sufferers differs from that of other people in the region of the somatosensory cortex that receives sensation signals from the head and face (including the roots of the teeth). It appears that when nerve signals from the teeth stream into a migraine-sensitive brain during nighttime clenching, this sets up conditions that allow a migraine to happen later in the day.

While mouth guards only appear to significantly reduce clenching about 10% of the time, Holistic Technologies’ recently published clinical trial results that dovetail with the MGH findings to show that for people who have a nighttime clenching habit, the majority of migraines stop happening when nighttime clenching is reduced by 80% through using a biofeedback headband while sleeping. The biofeedback headband provides a subtle sound signal when it detects clenching, that allows users to relax jaw muscles and stop clenching without waking up.

Since many people who suffer TMJ-disorder-related pain (including migraines) don’t know whether they clench their teeth in their sleep, and since unlike teeth grinding, teeth clenching often does not leave telltale visible signs such as enamel wear, Holistic Technologies offers a three-week free trial of the SleepGuard biofeedback headband, so that migraine sufferers can determine without cost whether they can use nighttime biofeedback to prevent migraines.

Holistic Technologies is planning another consumer survey to determine whether expensive prescription mouth guards made by dentists are any more effective at reducing TMJ-disorder-related pain than inexpensive mouth guards available at pharmacies. “We feel it is basically unfair that most dentist-prescribed TMJ and migraine treatments don’t even have money-back guarantees”, says Weinstein. “We have made the SleepGuard biofeedback headband free to try. We feel no TMJ or migraine treatment should have to be paid for unless it works for the person using it.”

Interviews with TMJ and migraine clinical trial participants can be arranged upon request for members of the press, and Holistic Technologies makes raw clinical trial data available to university researchers.

Holistic Technologies LLC has been providing nighttime biofeedback relief to thousands of bruxism sufferers since 2007. The company website is http://StopGrinding.com. News and new information regarding the SleepGuard biofeedback headband may be received automatically through the SleepGuard news RSS feed. Consumers and healthcare professionals wishing to be involved with Holistic Technologies' research and other activities may stay in touch by following SleepGuard on Twitter, or by liking our Facebook page.
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Woman reducing teeth grinding, TMJ pain, and migraines using biofeedback headband in sleep Woman preventing TMJ pain by using biofeedback headband in sleep.

Biofeedback headband helps eliminate nighttime teeth clenching.


Diagram showing how various TMJ-related pain symptoms manifest from teeh clenching. TMJ Pain Etiology

How various TMJ-related pain symptoms manifest from teeh clenching.