What is it?
JawGuard is a discreet medical device which fits within the ears to stabilise the jaw joint. The device treats symptoms of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) including jaw pain, facial pain, tension headaches, ear pain, eye pain, some neck pain and trismus.
JawGuard is unique in the fact that it has the ability to be actively effective for over 22 hours a day as it can be worn throughout the day and night, a significant advantage over other dental splints which are generally worn for a maximum of eight hours during the night, a major development for treating patients with day time parafunctional habits.
The JawGuard product is a custom made medical device which is created to fit the patient’s ear canal. Impressions of the ear canal are taken in order to ensure that the device is comfortable with a bespoke fit which also allows for the active component of the appliance to be as effective as possible.
How does it work?
In 1998 an audiologist by the name of Lawrence G. Clayton theorised that devices placed within the ear canal would be able to stabilise the jaw joint due to its close anatomical proximity to the joint. The principle was that if you could reduce the strains and stresses in the tissues surrounding the jaw joint, the a reduction in the symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) would naturally follow.
Anatomically, the ear canal is intimately associated to tissues surrounding the jaw joint and has insertions with tissues around the articular disc of the jaw joint (TMJ). Because of these connections, when the jaw is opened the ear canal is pulled forward and is approximately 25% bigger than when the jaw closes and the ear canal is compressed. There is a particular zone within the ear canal which is stretched when the jaw opens, and this is the area which the JawGuard appliance therapeutically exploits in order to provide relieving support to the joint.
An open jaw impression is taken and then digitally scanned. Following this, a digital design process takes place and a bespoke appliance is planned to specific dimensions which ensure the active component of the appliance supports the jaw joint as effectively as possible. A sound bore is also fabricated through the appliance which is clinically proven to have little to no effect on the patients ability to hear.
When the appliance is worn, the result is that the head of the condyle is pushed very slightly forwards and downward, the tissues behind the disc of the joint are relaxed and there is more space between the jaw and the skull, meaning critical tissues are not “pinched”, stressed or under tension. This then serves to reduce the pain associated with TMD.
The evidence base
The principles surrounding in ear devices for the treatment of jaw related pain has been around since the late 1990’s with the evidence base supporting their use being built significantly over the last ten years.
We have spent the last two years researching and developing an effective, comfortable and safe device that has real life, in some case transformational results for TMD sufferers.
In 2012, early devices were proven to reduce jaw pain by 46% at month one and 58% by month three. The clear benefit to this was that the devices could be worn day and night rather than just 6-8 hours which is common wear time for alternative splints. In this comparative study the in ear devices reduced pain and discomfort more effectively than any other device.
Since this initial study there have been numerous others, all providing reproducible data proving efficacy of in-ear devices in treating symptoms of TMD and all showing that the devices are superior to other alternative methods, particularly in patients who engage in daytime para-functional habits (awake clenching/grinding).
We have been improving the concept of the In-Ear device with JawGuard. Making changes to the design to ensure that the active part of the device is effective and comfortable has meant we are getting better results than ever, helping patient after patient receive relief from jaw pain and other associated problems.