As a dentist, I see the effects of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders on my patients. The pain, discomfort, and restricted jaw movement that come with TMJ issues can significantly impact your life, making even simple activities like speaking and eating difficult.
Since the COVID pandemic I have seen a huge increase in the number of patients suffering from these problems. People grind their teeth more during times of stress and uncertainty. Teeth grinding, especially while sleeping, can lead to symptoms ranging from jaw ache, through to severe pain from cracked teeth.
One effective solution that has gained prominence is the use of “over-the-counter” TMJ mouthguards (1). These appliances offer a straight-forward approach to alleviating TMJ-related symptoms, by preventing grinding and clenching of teeth, in order to relax the jaw muscles. They can be worn to sleep, or when carrying out any particular stressful task, such as working at your desk.
When selecting the best TMJ mouthguard, choosing one made from a high-quality material will ensure comfort and durability. The size of the trays, and how it fits when moulded will make a big difference; a poorly fitting mouthguard will not provide relief and can potentially worsen symptoms.
Taking into account these key factors, I ordered and tried out multiple over the counter TMJ mouthguards to find the best option. After boiling multiple kettles of hot water for moulding (and remoulding) I gained some interesting insights about these products.
I recommend the Charmpoo Mouthguard as it’s comfortable, easily mouldable, made from a safe durable material. Read on to find out about the other options.
Our Top 5 Picks
Best Overall TMJ Mouthguard – Charmpoo Mouth Guard
Best TMJ Mouthguard for Worn Teeth – The ConfiDental Moldable Mouthguard
Best TMJ Mouthguard for Clenching – TheSleepGuard Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding
Best Fitting TMJ Mouthguard – OPRO Night Guard
Best Value TMJ Mouthguard – GrindGuard Professional Dental Mouth Guard
Best Overall TMJ Mouthguard
- Prevents teeth grinding and clenching
- Adjustable and comfortable fit with easy moulding process
- BPA-free; made of safe Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA)
- Some people may find it bulky
- Two of the six mouthguards are kid sizes
- May need to remould to get a perfect fit
Why do we recommend this TMJ Mouthguard?
Charmpoo’s mouth guard is a good choice for those seeking relief from teeth grinding and TMJ pain while sleeping.
The moulding process might seem intimidating at first, but I found it quite simple to follow the included step-by-step instructions. It is important to take the time and effort to mould it properly for a perfect fit.
The mouthguards are made of safe and soft EVA materials, ensuring a comfortable fit without causing sensitivity or irritation. Some people may find the material to be slightly bulkier than expected, but this provides added protection.
This mouthguard’s comfortable design, effectiveness, and safe materials make it a reliable solution.
Best TMJ Mouthguard for Worn Teeth
- Customisable fit
- Fits well around shorter/worn teeth
- BPA free and phthalates free materials
- Thicker guards may feel uncomfortable for some users
- Not as durable as professional dental-grade options
This versatile mouthguard says it offers “comfort and protection for teeth grinders, athletes, and those in need of a whitening tray”.
Personally, I don’t think this product is suitable for whitening, nor does it provide adequate protection for contact sports. However as an offering for TMJ mouthguard it does pretty well.
They’re made from a soft thermo plastic premium medical-grade material, which is both BPA and phthalate-free.
The package includes 3 regular guards (3mm thick) and 2 heavy-duty guards (6mm thick), catering to different preferences. I would always recommend using the thicker guard if you can tolerate it as it provides more protection.
Moulding and fitting the mouthguard is simple. I found that it took a few attempts to achieve the perfect fit, but once it’s done, the guard sits comfortably in the mouth.
TMJ problems and tooth wear (teeth become shorter over time), are usually found concurrently in patients. The thicker guard will mould well around your teeth even if they have worn over time.
Best TMJ Mouthguard for Clenching
- Customisable fit with small and large sizes
- Comes with cases for storage
- Some users may experience initial discomfort
- Can be difficult to mould properly
TheSleepGuard’s mouth guard is comfortable and effective in providing protection against teeth grinding and clenching issues.
The pack offers four mouthguards in small and large sizes, again providing a personalised fit. The ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) material is durable, and the mouth guards have earned Class 1 UKCA accreditation, making them a trusted choice among dentists. I appreciated the included retainer cases, which made storing the mouth guards easier (and stops the dog from being able to get to them).
TheSleepGuard offers a cost-effective way to combat teeth clenching, as it prevents your teeth from being able to make contact when sleeping. This in turn relaxes your jaw muscles and decreases the strain on the TMJ.
Best Fitting TMJ Mouthguard
- Dentist designed by an expert in mouthguards
- Fitting cradle ensures excellent comfort and retention
- Fitting process can be slightly tricky
- Hard frame may not suit some people
- Price is higher compared to alternatives
The OPRO Night Guard is another good choice. OPRO mainly specialise in sports mouthguards but their patented fitting cradle technology is a sight to behold. The hard cradle applies pressure during the moulding phase to ensure a tight fit around the teeth.
Its designed by dentists to protect against grinding and clenching symptoms associated with Bruxism.
The fitting process was a bit challenging at first, but the patented fitting cradle use the power of the jaw biting down to compress the mouthguard over the teeth. After moulding, the night guard was soft and flexible. It’s made of high-quality BPA-free and latex-free materials, ensuring that it’s both safe and clean to use.
The OPRO Night Guard is worth considering for its unique fitting method. It just happens to be a little too expensive to be my top pick.
Best Value TMJ Mouthguard
- You get 8 in a pack
- Cheaper than alternatives
- Only available in two sizes
- Not the most comfortable
- May require regular replacement for long-term use
This mouthguard is designed to prevent tooth damage by providing a barrier between teeth.
The mouth guard is fully mouldable, although it wasn’t the most comfortable in comparison to the others. The pack comes with eight gum shields in two sizes, four for the lower set of teeth and four for the upper set.
While these mouth guards work well, they do have some downsides. The sizing means that half the guards will probably be useless to you (do you have a smaller friend that also grinds their teeth?).
However it is cheaper than others per guard, therefore may be useful if you tend to bite and chew through your mouth guards on a regular basis.
Why use a specialised TMJ Mouthguard?
Mouthguards for TMJ disorders differ from regular mouthguards used for sports activities. They are typically thinner and designed to be worn throughout the day and night to provide constant support. These mouthguards help to realign the jaw, reduce teeth grinding (bruxism), and cushion the jaw joint to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Similarly its not ideal to use a whitening tray, or retainers as a mouthguard as these are likely made from thinner, more brittle materials that are likely to fracture.
Buying Guide for TMJ Mouthguards
When selecting the best TMJ mouthguard, various factors need to be considered.
Material:The material plays a crucial role in its comfort and durability. Ideally, it should be made of a high-quality, non-toxic, and BPA-free material like medical-grade silicone or thermoplastic. Ensure the material is not too rigid, as this is hard to mould, and might cause discomfort while sleeping.
Customisation: A good TMJ mouthguard should have some level of customisation, either through a boil-and-bite technique or a custom-fit option from a dental professional. The goal is to achieve the best possible fit, ensuring that it stays in place throughout the night and provides adequate support for the jaw. The OPRO offering comes with a bite cage which helps to mould the guard to the teeth. This is thought to be more accurate that just applying finger pressure.
Ease of cleaning: A TMJ mouthguard should be easy to clean and maintain. Most can be washed with warm water and mild soap. Some may come with their own cleaning solutions, which can simplify the process. Be careful not to use water that is too warm or it could warp the fit.
Value for money: The price of TMJ mouthguards can vary, depending on the quality of the product. While it’s essential to choose a mouthguard that fits within your budget, it’s better not to sacrifice quality or comfort for a lower price point. Investing in a good quality TMJ mouthguard can be more cost effective in the long run.
Step by Step: How to Use a TMJ Mouthguard
Clean the Mouthguard: Before use, ensure the TMJ mouthguard is clean. Wash it with mild soap and water and allow it to dry thoroughly.
Prepare Your Mouth: Rinse your mouth with water to ensure cleanliness before inserting the mouthguard.
Position the Mouthguard: Insert the mouthguard into your mouth, ensuring it covers all your lower teeth. Align it with your front teeth.
Bite Down Gently: Bite down gently to allow the mouthguard to conform to your teeth. Avoid biting too hard, as this can affect the fit.
Check the Fit: After biting down, check the fit of the mouthguard. It should cover your teeth comfortably without causing any discomfort or impeding your ability to breathe.
Make Adjustments if Necessary: If the mouthguard feels uncomfortable or doesn’t fit well, you may need to make adjustments. Follow the customization steps if provided by the manufacturer.
How to Customise a TMJ Mouthguard
Boil Water: Boil a pot of water and let it cool for a minute or two to ensure it’s hot but not scalding.
Submerge the Mouthguard: Place the mouthguard in the hot water for the recommended time specified in the instructions (usually a few seconds to a minute) to soften the material.
Remove and Cool: Using tongs or a spoon, carefully remove the mouthguard from the hot water and let it cool for a few seconds. Be cautious not to burn yourself.
Push the tray against your teeth : Once the mouthguard is cool enough to touch but still pliable, insert it into your mouth and push the guard into your teeth with your thumbs, working your way along all surfaces back to front.
Bite down gently: This allows the softened material to mould around the tops of your teeth for a customised fit.
Cooling Period: Keep the mouthguard in your mouth for the recommended cooling time specified in the instructions. This allows the material to set in the molded shape.
Check Fit: After the cooling period, remove the mouthguard and check the fit. If it’s comfortable and snug, the customisation process is complete. If adjustments are needed, you may need to start again.
Brush your teeth and dry with a towel prior to customising the tray to get the most accurate mould.
Use the guards to fit over your LOWER TEETH as opposed to upper teeth. This makes it much more likely to stay in place.
If you’re finding the mouthguard digs-in in a particular area you can use scissors to carefully trim the tray to make it more comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which type of mouthguard is most effective for TMJ?
We find that the most effective mouthguards for TMJ are custom-made ones, tailored specifically to an individual’s tooth structure and arch shape. These mouthguards are typically made of acrylic or hard plastic and provide the best relief for TMJ symptoms. The over the counter option is cheaper and more convenient but will not provide relief in all cases.
How long does it typically take to see results using a TMJ mouthguard?
Results can vary, but many individuals experience relief from TMJ symptoms within a few weeks of consistent use. Some people may take longer to see improvements, depending on the severity of their symptoms and the effectiveness of the mouthguard.
Is it advisable to get a TMJ mouthguard from a dentist?
I highly recommend consulting a dentist for a TMJ mouthguard, as they can perform a thorough evaluation and recommend treatment options tailored specifically to your needs. Custom-made mouthguards, which are often provided by dentists, tend to outperform over-the-counter versions in terms of both comfort and effectiveness.
Are there different varieties of TMJ mouthguards available?
Yes, there are different varieties of TMJ mouthguards available, each designed to target specific aspects of TMJ disorders. Some common types include stabilisation splints, repositioning splints, and anterior bite-plane devices. A dental professional can help you choose the most suitable type of TMJ mouthguard based on your specific symptoms and requirements.
In summary, after extensive research on various TMJ mouthguards, the Charmpoo Mouthguard stands out as our top recommendation as an initial therapy for TMJ issues. The Charmpoo Mouthguard provides comfort with its thoughtful design, easy moldability, and the use of safe, durable materials. These factors make it a reliable choice for individuals seeking relief from TMJ-related symptoms, ensuring a good starting point to help manage this condition.
If you’re finding your jaw problems persist, or to have a fully customised TMJ mouthguard made, find a dentist to help you.