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What is TMJ Disorder and how do you treat it?

By July 21, 2020 No Comments

Ever found yourself with an achy jaw after a deep night’s sleep? Do you experience pain when you chew on a steak or bite down on carrots? There is a chance you are experiencing Temporomandibular Joints Disorder, also known as TMD.

What is TMJ?

While you may not think about your temporomandibular joints much, they are a joint you use a lot. These are the joints that connect your jawbone to your skull and you use these joints whenever you talk, chew or swallow, making them a very active part of your body.

What are the causes of TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorders occur when your jaw joints or jaw muscles are injured, inflamed, or overused. Symptoms often include:

  • Pain while chewing,
  • Pain in your ear, face, jaw or neck,
  • Clicking, grating, or even popping sounds when you open or close your mouth,
  • Locking of the jaw joint, and
  • Headaches.

Other common causes of TMJ Disorder are when patients grind or clench their teeth together, or when their teeth/jaw doesn’t align correctly. Thankfully, these forms of TMJ Disorder are easily treatable by your orthodontist.

How to treat TMJ Disorder

Before undertaking orthodontic treatment, there are several non-invasive treatments that we often recommend patients try first. Often TMJ will resolve itself over time with the assistance of small lifestyle changes. These types of treatments include eating soft foods, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory analgesics, reducing stress and seeing a physiotherapist.

Treating TMJ Disorder with braces or clear aligners (Invisalign)

Orthodontic treatment may be helpful in treating TMJ disorder if it is a result of a patient’s bite. When the teeth meet correctly, your jaw joints will no longer be under strain, and symptoms should ease.

For patients who have TMJ due to grinding their teeth or jaw clenching, orthodontic treatment can assist in relieving pain often caused by misaligned teeth. Even if your teeth appear to be straight, you may still have issues with your jaw alignment – particularly if you have a deep bite.

Unfortunately, not all causes of TMJ disorders are treatable with orthodontics; this is something your orthodontist will discuss this with during your initial consultation.

What’s the next step?

Whether the pain you experience from TMJ is severe or just a little inconvenient, you should make an appointment with the friendly Ethos Orthodontics staff. We will discuss with you whether braces or aligners would be the best treatment for your TMJ or if you should consider an alternative.