My TMJ Jaw Tension Story
So for the last two years, I have had many mornings of dull jaw pain, ear pain, and Tinnitus (in case you don’t know, is buzzing or ringing in the ear.) Some people have vertigo or dizziness with TMJ, I do not. This dull pain in my Jaw happened in the last month while I wore Invisalign invisible braces. I was not warned of this potential habit and developed a sleeping clenching problem because of those soft chewable retainers.
So I purchased a headband call the sleepguard which provides feedback on my muscle activity of my temples it provides a tone and I’m supposed to respond to that tone by stopping clenching the directions of the sleepguard mentioned that you have to use it during the day to keep portraying your subconscious to relax when you hear the tone. However other then a data collection device that is knowing how many clenches in the amount of time the device has not worked for me because I cannot hear the tone or make it loud enough because my wife will be bothered by the sound but honestly I think I’m just desensitized to the sound and sleep through it just the sound of rain or a fan.
So I went and got a procedure called TruDenta where they corrected my bite using a digital pressure measuring device, called a T Scan that gave a digital 3d topology of my off bite pattern and time involved in milliseconds. The fancy name is called DTR or Disclusion Time Reduction, very cool stuff. I have a TruDenta technology review from the patient perspective linked below.
After just 2 months many of my symptoms decreased with fewer headaches being a big one. However right when I woke up and had jaw pain that would go away during the day unless I talked a lot. So, I still clenched at night.
The dentist provided me with a unique night guard that did not allow my back teeth to touch, however, I still clench with my front teeth causing my assent that’ll back of my head muscles to clench causing a headache. So in the effort to solve one problem I created a new one. But at that point, I realized that my real problem was nighttime clenching. So I ordered the device from Germany called Bruznne To Go. I used it for two nights and it really helped me however after the second night I woke up and I had chewed the thing to death I had literally spent the vibration mechanism in half this device is currently not FDA approved for the United States so I could not order another.
So now where I’m at today is I need to make a device which provides biofeedback of my clenches during the night.
How I hacked it.
To get started, I used my hard night guard retainer that I got from the dentist as a reference, I took a picture of that and got it to my computer.
Using Adobe Illustrator, I started by creating a plastic foundation for these 3 micro switches, 2 switches under the rear molars and one switch under my front teeth.
After trial and error of using multiple types of switches even creating my own, I have found that these tiny little 5 mm momentary switches were strong enough for to make it through the amount of pressure created by the strongest muscles in your body the Jaw Masseter muscle – Wikipedia
I used my GlowForge laser cutter to print out the foundation 2d shape, where the switches will be applied as well as the two copper film sheet channels that would be used for conductivity. I used a role of copper film and applied it to some vinyl which gave it some substantial resiliency. This conductive copper film with an adhesive vinyl was cut out using my Silhouette Cameo 3 cutter one of my favorite maker hacker tools in the shop.
Micro durable switches are incredibly complex to make.
I then wired up everything including an external battery pack and vibration unit to provide the feedback on clenching. Once the switches were tested and working
Back in Illustrator, I then saved an SVG outline and imported that into Fusion 360. If you need getting started tutorial videos on Fusion 360 I have a playlist and course linked below. I created both the teeth positioning bottom retainer and the separate lid to encapsulate the electronic plate. I used what Fusion 360 calls components. This way I can 3D Print everything or separately. For instance, I could print the bottom, pause the print, add the electronics and continue the print to enclose everything.
I then 3D printed the bottom using Flexible Filament that will be soft and comfortable to wear. I doubt this PLA plastic is BPA free so do not try this at home.
Assemble all of the pieces and for this prototype temporarily glued the top on.
After the glue dried, I rinsed it off with a mild detergent and I was ready to use the device.
I know this is a complete hack but this project works and has been a great step towards my next design which will be much more streamlined
I taped the vibration feedback using some forgiving medical tape right below my ear and added a little piece of tape for the wire that came from the retainer it’s up to you what you do with the battery pack I just simply slipped my him the T-shirt I was wearing that evening.
As I’ve reviewed this pillow and other videos I have found it the healthiest sleep on my back so I use the special pillow that is helped many of my friends with shoulder and so sleeping on your back is The best way I have found having TMJ. This way you have no pressure on your jaw all night and it’s actually the best way to sleep hands-down.
So that’s pretty much it every time that I wake up I have less job pain lower tenderness and generally am not on the edge of having acute job pain during the day because I have not text my muscles all night long.
The next step is to streamline this device and potentially connected to a mobile app to track the data.
However, tracking the data in a mobile app is not necessary for this device to work so I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor with this device letting me know when I clench at night.
If you can find any of this information helpful or if you have any questions please lead in the comments below and again and whatever you do make something that connects you with other people.
Clinical Research Links
Disclaimer – try at you’re own risk.
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