The job of your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is to connect your jaw to your head, allowing you to perform basic tasks like chewing and eating, yawning, and even talking. However, for some of our patients, this small but very important joint may suddenly stop working properly, leading to pain and discomfort. This failure of your TMJ to work properly is known as a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder or simply TMD.
While the cause of TMJ disorder is not very well understood, it is suspected that one of the major triggers for it is jaw misalignment. When we here at Sawrie Orthodontics meet patients with TMD, we understand how painful this condition must be for you and are happy to offer various treatment options to help you find lasting relief.
What Can Be Done to Treat TMJ Disorder?
The symptoms of TMJ disorder can be downright miserable to those who suffer from it. Common clues that you may have TMJ disorder include a popping or clicking when you open your mouth or move your jaw, an ongoing and unexplained headache, pain that radiates up from your jaw into your ears and your temples, jaw pain that peaks in the morning or later in the afternoon, problems opening your mouth properly, and sore jaw muscles.
The causes of TMJ disorder are not very well known, but it is correlated with jaw misalignment. Other causes can be grinding your teeth at night (or even when you are awake!), elevated levels of stress, clenching your teeth, and arthritis. Some people are more prone to TMJ disorder, such as women and individuals between the ages of 20 to 40. If you have TMJ, you are not alone – up to 35 million American adults have some degree of this fairly common condition. Fortunately, treatment is available to you if you suffer from TMJ disorder.
Many of our patients are surprised to discover that one of the best ways that we can correct their TMJ is with orthodontic braces. If your TMJ disorder is caused by bite or jaw misalignment, braces can effectively realign your jaw and your bite, relieving you of your ongoing discomfort. Braces are not just for adolescents or people with crooked teeth. They are quite beneficial for those who struggle with TMJ pain! The same mechanism of action that makes braces work well for giving you an even, straight and attractive smile can also help move and shift your jaw and teeth back into alignment.
Treatment for TMJ disorder with braces can take between a year or two years to be fully successful. This is a fantastic alternative to more invasive treatment methods such as jaw surgery. It has been demonstrated to give more lasting results than other treatment options such as diet or lifestyle changes or physical therapy. Once your course of treatment is completed, we will fit you with a retainer to help your results last and to avoid relapse.
If you struggle with TMJ disorder and would like to schedule an appointment for a consultation at our office, or you simply want to learn more about this condition, please give us here at Sawrie Orthodontics a call at (423) 624-8217 today!