Can an Orthodontist Fix Temporal Mandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)?

Can an Orthodontist Fix Temporal Mandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)?

Over the past several years there have been even more advances in dentistry. This enables orthodontists to fix dental problems of individuals suffering from pain related to their teeth, jaw, and nerves. Orthodontists, in particular, are known for correcting crooked teeth with braces, clear aligners, or headgear. What not everyone may realize is that orthodontists can also help treat Temporal Mandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). 

What is TMJ and is it painful?

TMJ is a jaw joint disorder where the bite and jaw alignment doesn’t function properly. The lower jaw bone is designed to rotate and slide in a way that provides a range of motion during speaking and chewing. Common causes of TMJ include high stress, age, arthritis, cranial-sacral distortions, and jaw clenching. TMJ can be very painful, causing headaches, jaw clicking, facial pain, earaches, and ear ringing. 

What if TMJ doesn’t get treated?

If TMJ goes untreated, nerves can become permanently damaged. Most cases of TMJ are mild to moderate, but health problems can arise such as poor jaw mobility and difficulty chewing. A person who is under immense pain due to TMJ is likely to respond by not eating as much because the process of eating is too uncomfortable. Without proper nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, more serious health issues can develop. It can also become difficult to get a good night of rest if the jaw pain is unrelenting. Dealing with such discomfort can severely impact a person’s life. 

How can an orthodontist help me?

There are treatment options for people with TMJ. An orthodontist may recommend stress management, pain medications, heat and cold compresses, resting the joints, and mouth guards. After the pain has reasonably subsided, an orthodontist can assess the patient to see if more long-term treatment is necessary. Splint therapy may be needed depending on the patient’s individual case. Oral TMJ splints can help unload the jaw joints, decreasing pain due to compressed joints. Not all splints are the same, so your orthodontist can talk with you about which are best suited for you. 

Could braces help alleviate pain associated with TMJ?

If the TMJ is due to bite problems or misalignments, then your orthodontist may suggest getting braces. After teeth are positioned correctly, jaw joint overextension should be greatly alleviated. Braces should help reduce or even completely eliminate symptoms. Additionally, braces can prevent the wear and tear that would have happened to your teeth if the misalignment wasn’t fixed. In combination with braces, an orthodontist is likely to suggest practicing stress-reduction techniques too. In very severe instances, an orthodontist may advise that the patient undergoes surgery. 

Do I need to talk with my dentist first about TMJ?

It is important to notify your dentist about TMJ symptoms so they can offer insight into how to fix the problem. However, your dentist may not have specialized knowledge in TMJ, and is probably going to refer you to an orthodontist, like an orthodontist in San Clemente, CA, for further examination. 
Thanks to John Redmond Orthodontics for their insight into how an orthodontist could help with TMJ.

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