I've been using a dental mouthguard at night for the last few years because my dentist said I was grinding my teeth at night. The first one broke, and the second one has a large crack in the same location. I've also had TMJ problems, mainly in the right jaw joint, for many years. A couple years ago these got much worse, and I had more jaw pain and migrane-like headaches. However, I stopped chewing gum, started wearing the dental mouthguard, and I believe improved my overall joint health by taking vitamin D since I had a deficiency. The TMJ problems have gone back to being the lesser problem that I've had for many years, with my jaw sometimes popping and getting mildly sore, but no migrane headaches and generally relatively mild jaw pain.
When I was at the dentist yesterday for my regular teeth cleaning, he had me see an associated orthodontist who recommended I get a dental appliance for treating TMJ. He thought that it was a bad idea to wear the mouthguard with a crack in it, as it could break while I'm asleep. He also said that the appliance he could give me would have less chance of cracking, since the mouthguard goes on my bottom teeth and the appliance would go on my top teeth (in his experience, mouthpieces on the bottom teeth crack more). He also thought that the appliance would treat my TMJ problems more than the mouthguard.
However, I didn't get a good sense from him on exactly how the appliance works and how it differs from the mouthguard I have now. Would I still only have to wear it at night, or would I need to wear it during the day as well for it to be effective? Also, since my TMJ problems aren't severe right now, is it a good idea to try to treat them at all, or would that run a risk of making it worse? Would it work just as well at keeping my teeth from being worn down from grinding at night, or is the simple mouthguard I have now better for that? If anyone could give me any advice on whether I should go with the appliance he recommends or just stick with a mouthguard like what I've been wearing, I would really appreciate it.