In your mouth, the joint connecting your jaw to your skull is called the temporomandibular joint. For many, this joint can be the source of chronic pain and frustration. When its damaged, you can experience a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder, also referred to as TMD or TMJ. Your dentist may recommend braces for TMJ problems to treat underlying causes.
Read on to learn more about TMJ disorder and how braces could solve your TMJ issues for good!
Symptoms of TMJ
TMJ has several symptoms, but the most obvious one is pain in your jaw joint. Acute cases of jaw pain here or there are common, but if you have chronic pain in one or both of your jaw joints, it’s a common indicator of TMJ.
Some of the other symptoms include:
- Difficulty chewing
- Pain along your neck
- Pain in your face
- Frequent earaches
- Stiffening of your jaw muscles
- Clicking or popping jaw
The symptoms of TMJ are most identifiable when using your jaw. Things like eating, speaking or even just opening your mouth to breathe heavily can cause pain or discomfort. Untreated TMJ disorder will limit how much you can open your mouth or even cause a “locking” feeling that prevents your jaw from moving at all!
TMJ is more common than you may think! It’s estimated that around 15 percent of adults suffer from some degree of TMJ disorder, particularly in the 20 to 40 age group.
Causes of TMJ
The specific cause of TMJ disorder is usually difficult to pinpoint. Dentists still don’t fully understand the onset of TMJ disorder. However, there are instigating factors that we know are commonly associated with chronic jaw pain:
High stress – Chronic stress issues lead to clenching and high muscle tension in your jaw
Jaw Trauma – Impacts and damage to your jaw are likely to affect the muscles
Arthritis – Inflammatory arthritis and some specific arthritic conditions are known to be associated with TMJ disorder
Alignment Issues – Poor alignment of the teeth and/or jaw is common for those with TMJ disorder
Depending on your personal health and risk factors, your chances of developing TMJ can increase dramatically. If you suffer from more than one of these risk factors, keep an eye out for jaw pain!
How Braces for TMJ Can Help
Braces for TMJ are one of the most effective treatments to reduce pain and finally give you relief! While braces aren’t the solution for every type of TMJ disorder, they can help in several cases to reduce or eliminate the causes:
Fixing Tooth Alignment
When your teeth are out of ideal alignment, your bite applies uneven pressure which not only affects your jaw, but can cause additional wear on your teeth. Left untreated, your misaligned bite will worsen any jaw pain and leave you vulnerable to several oral health risks.
Braces will slowly adjust the position of your teeth until they achieve the best possible alignment. Depending on your age, teeth and unique malocclusion, you likely have several options for which kind of braces you can use!
Reducing Tooth Grinding & Clenching
Braces aren’t just a good solution for TMJ, they’re also a common solution for teeth grinding, known as bruxism, and clenching! Misaligned teeth are a typical condition behind those that habitually grind and clench. Orthodontic treatment is shown to reduce or solve these habits by realigning your teeth to their healthiest positions!
For those with TMJ, the muscle strain involved in grinding and clenching are often the primary contributing factor behind their jaw pain. By treating the underlying muscle strain, braces will give your jaw the rest it needs to heal. Over the duration of the treatment, you should notice significant improvements in your TMJ until it goes away completely!
Schedule a Free Consultation
Do you have questions about Invisalign or orthodontic treatment? We can answer your questions to keep your teeth and gums healthy – schedule a free consultation! Contact us online or call 440-842-8015
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