The temporomandibular joint, also referred to as the TMJ, is the joint where the lower jaw or mandible joins the upper jaw near the temporal bone. This joint can become misaligned, leading to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms that can be difficult to diagnose. In some cases, orthodontic treatment is used to help adjust the alignment of the TMJ and reduce or eliminate the symptoms.
Causes of the misalignment vary, but can include:
- Bite problems
- Habitual teeth grinding and clenching
Bite problems cause misalignment because the teeth do not move in the proper relationship to each other. This can cause the TMJ to move out of alignment. Bite problems can also cause teeth grinding and clenching, which can be either a cause or a symptom of TMJ disorders.
Other symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Chronic headaches
- Jaw discomfort
- Ear discomfort
- Discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and upper back
These symptoms can occur due to other issues, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. Once you have been diagnosed with TMJ disorder, your dentist/ orthodontist can provide treatment and recommendations for management. In some cases, orthodontic treatment is used to help adjust the alignment of the TMJ and reduce or eliminate the symptoms.
How Orthodontics Can Help TMJ Disorders
Orthodontics is one effective approach often used with TMJ disorder. If your TMJ is caused by misalignment or bite problems, braces can be used to move your teeth back into the proper position. Once your teeth are positioned correctly, the TMJ will also shift back into its optimal alignment. This will reduce or even eliminate your ongoing symptoms as well as prevent abnormal wear and tear to your teeth, which can occur when teeth are misaligned.
Other treatment for TMJ disorder can include stress reduction, muscle stimulation to reduce tension in the jaw, heat applied to the joint, or, in serious cases, surgery to repair the joint.
If you have experienced TMJ symptoms, please call our office to find out how treatment with orthodontics can help!