When you yawn, talk, and chew your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is at work. Located on either side of your jaw, this joint connects the mandible (lower jaw) to your temporal skull bone and assists in the basic opening and closing of your mouth.
For some, this movement results in popping or clicking sounds. It can also cause recurring pain with tenderness in the jaw, neck, or shoulders, frequent headaches, and facial swelling. These are all common symptoms of a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
A TMJ disorder is usually triggered by bite issues or trauma to the joint. With orthodontic treatment, though, the jaw can be correctly positioned, providing an ideally functioning bite and elevating TMJ symptoms.
Does Orthodontics Help TMJ Disorder?
Short answer – yes, orthodontics can help fix TMJ disorders! When evaluating TMJ treatment, your orthodontist will look at all factors that could be causing the disorder – its severity, duration, and any underlying causes of your symptoms. In most cases, we recommend self-care techniques to relieve any pain or discomfort, like eating soft foods, taking pain relievers, or applying cold compresses. However, there are a variety of other treatments our orthodontists use to correctly position the jaw.
- Night Guard – Worn while you sleep, a night mouth guard not only prevents grinding and clenching, but also helps reposition your teeth and jaw. With this, your facial muscles relax, releasing the pain from a TMJ disorder.
- Splint – Worn throughout the day, a split helps reduce muscle tension and allows your jaw to move smoothly.
- Braces – Braces aren’t just for straightening your teeth. Along with aesthetics, orthodontic braces are an effective option when a TMJ disorder is caused by a bite misalignment or malocclusion. Braces help develop better jaw movement and function for a healthy bite. However, your Smile orthodontist will want to make sure this corrective dental treatment will improve the TMD and not make it worse.
- Surgery – If the TMJ condition is severe enough, your Smile dental and orthodontics team may recommend surgery. Surgical treatments, such as arthroscopic, open-joint, and modified condylotomy surgery, combined with appropriate orthodontic procedures will correct the positioning of the teeth and bite.
Smile Orthodontics is a great place to start if you experience symptoms of a TMJ disorder. We’ll determine the best relationship for your jaw joints and muscles to fit together as well as which orthodontic treatment is best to reduce or eliminate ongoing TMD symptoms.