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Orthodontics and TMJ Disorders: Relieving Jaw Pain and Dysfunction



September 26, 2023

Ever experience pain in your jaw joint or muscles that makes even simple acts like chewing or yawning a pain? You're not alone, as millions suffer from temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMD, that cause pain and limited jaw movement. Fortunately, orthodontic treatments can relieve jaw pain and dysfunction.

What is TMD?

Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, is a group of illnesses that trigger pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles responsible for jaw movement. If you suffer from chronic jaw pain, difficulty chewing, or your jaw locks or clicks, you may have TMD.

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) reside in front of each ear, facilitating the connection between your lower jaw and skull. Together with the muscles and ligaments, these joints enable essential functions such as chewing, speaking, and expressing facial emotions. Should these joints or the accompanying muscles experience injury or inflammation, they may trigger symptoms characteristic of Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), including discomfort, limited mobility, and functional impairment.

Common causes of TMD include teeth grinding or clenching, arthritis, jaw injury, or stress and anxiety, which can cause you to tighten your jaw muscles. The pain from TMD may be dull and aching or sharp and stabbing. It can interfere with your ability to eat and speak clearly and even limit how wide you can open your mouth.

How Orthodontics Can Relieve TMJ Pain and Dysfunction

Orthodontic treatment can help relieve many of the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders by realigning the jaw and teeth.

Realigning the Jaw

An orthodontist may use braces or clear aligners to shift the upper and lower jaws into the proper position, reducing muscle spasms and joint pressure pain.

Improving Bite Alignment

Correcting an uneven bite, overbite, or underbite can alleviate jaw discomfort and increase mobility. Adjusting how the upper and lower teeth come together when chewing and speaking eliminates strain on the jaw joint and muscles.

Addressing Teeth Grinding

An orthodontist may fit you with a custom night guard to prevent teeth grinding (bruxism) while you sleep. Grinding your teeth can cause micro-trauma to the jaw joint and muscles, leading to pain, stiffness, and other TMJ disorder symptoms. Reducing teeth grinding at night allows the jaw joint and muscles to heal.

Seeking Treatment for TMJ Disorders: When to Visit an Orthodontist

If your jaw is frequently sore or clicks and pops, it may be time to see an orthodontist about TMJ treatment. An orthodontist is a specialist dentist focused on correcting misaligned jaws and teeth. They often have extensive training to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders properly.

Visiting an orthodontist for TMJ pain is an excellent first step. They can examine your jaw joint and surrounding muscles to determine the underlying cause of your discomfort. In many cases, TMJ pain is caused or exacerbated by teeth or jaw misalignment. An orthodontist may recommend jaw repositioning or bite adjustment to relieve pressure on the joint and muscles.

Braces or clear aligner trays are often used to realign the upper and lower jaws into a more balanced position. This can help reduce pain, improve jaw mobility, and eliminate clicking or popping sounds. Once realignment is complete, many patients experience significant relief from TMJ pain and dysfunction.

If teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism) contributes to your TMJ disorder, an orthodontist may fit you for a custom night guard. The nightguard is worn over your teeth while sleeping to prevent grinding and give your jaw joint time to heal. They may also recommend lifestyle changes, like managing stress levels, to help break the teeth-grinding habit. Just seek treatment from a qualified orthodontist in Winnipeg today to develop a customized plan using the latest techniques. Take that first step and schedule a consultation to discuss your symptoms and find the right solution.


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