How Orthodontists Can Help TMJ Sufferers

Written by: Sam Ghosh

Wooden blocks spelling out

Updated August 3, 2021

When most people think of orthodontics, they often think of pre-teens with braces or people with clear aligners to straighten their teeth. While that is a huge part of the job description, can orthodontists treat dental and jaw problems. One of these problems is TMJ.

What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, more commonly known as TMJ, is a painful condition that affects the movement of the jaw. 

The temporomandibular joint connects your jawbone to your skull and, when functioning normally, operates like a sliding hinge. If you suffer from TMJ, that hinging movement can be extremely painful in the joint and the muscles surrounding that part of your face. This can make eating and even talking extremely painful.

What Causes TMJ?

TMJ can be caused by jaw clenching and tooth grinding. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching can be unconscious actions triggered by stress or anxiety. 

TMJ can also develop as we age. Over time, the disks that keep the jaw’s movements smooth can deteriorate causing this disorder. The temporomandibular joint’s cartilage can be affected by arthritis, causing pain and discomfort. 

This disorder could also be caused by trauma injuries. Impact injuries from car accidents, sports, and falls are commonly associated with TMJ if injuries were sustained to the face.

The TMJ Disorder Symptoms

TMJ can be diagnosed with a simple visit to an orthodontist. Symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Discomfort, pain, or soreness in the jaw
  • Difficult or painful chewing 
  • Headaches
  • Facial Pain
  • Clicking of the jaw
  • Reduced mobility of the jaw
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Generalized earaches
  • Dull or irritating pain in the ear
  • Sharp ear pains
  • Generalized earaches
  • Excessive wear and tear of teeth

TMJ Disorder is an Orthodontic Issue

TMJ disorder is known to produce bite and alignment issues for those afflicted. Orthodontists correct more than just crooked teeth. They also correct misaligned bites and jaw alignments as well. Orthodontists can also treat malocclusion, which could also be a culprit of causing this disorder. 

Orthodontists can prescribe treatments based on an individual case basis depending on how severe the discomfort or damage is.

Treatment of TMJ

If untreated, TMJ can cause permanent damage, including nerve damage in severe cases. There are a number of orthodontic treatments available that can change the lives of sufferers. 

Custom mouthguards could be prescribed for mild cases, especially when teeth grinding is an issue. To prevent permanent damage from grinding and increased jaw pressure, we recommend people wear mouth guards when sleeping. 

Orthodontic split treatments are also regularly used to relieve pressure on the jaw joints and to relieve pain. When most people hear the word ‘splint’, they think of sprains or fractures. But, splits can be used in the mouth to help the lower jaw align properly. 

For more severe cases, braces can be used to fix the alignment and jaw issues. The most severe cases do have a surgical option that creates a proper bite and can resolve ongoing problems. Since orthodontic treatment can correct the malocclusion, the jaw joint can return to its proper place and function the way it needs to. 
Ghosh Orthodontics is proud to offer innovative treatments for those with jaw and bite alignment issues, including TMJ. Dr. Sam Ghosh and the entire orthodontic team are dedicated to providing patients with the most effective, comfortable, and affordable solutions available. If you are suffering from TMJ, make an appointment at one of our two orthodontic offices in Allentown or Pottsville. We offer free consultations for your first visit, so you can find relief with us.

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