Patients whose TMJ pain became more noticeable during braces treatment may think braces are the cause.
Spoiler alert: Studies published by the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry have shown there to be no evidence that braces cause TMJ disorder.
In fact, braces can be a part of the solution to TMJ pain! Here’s everything you need to know to experience relief and bust the myth of braces causing TMJ disorder.
What is TMJ disorder?
TMJ is short for ‘temporomandibular joint’. This joint is located in the jaw, connecting the jaw bone to the skull. Your TMJ is essentially a hinge that allows your jaw to open, close, slide forward, backward and side to side.
With TMJ disorder, this joint is not functioning properly and movement of the jaw is weakened or hindered, which can cause issues with the jaw, nerve pain, facial muscle pain, clicking and locking in the jaw, and difficulty chewing.
What causes TMJ disorder?
This disorder results from a strain in the TMJ, which can occur when a disk in the jaw moves out of alignment or erodes due to wear and tear, or an impact damages the joint. Any of the following causes can lead to a compromised TMJ:
- Bruxism: clenching and grinding your teeth habitually
- Trauma that causes damage to the jaw or neck
- Jaw or teeth misalignments that cause tension in the jaw
Can braces cause TMJ disorder?
Braces are not known to cause TMJ disorder. However, this condition can become more apparent as the teeth are moved into alignment, which may lead a patient to associate TMJ disorder with braces.
During the first few weeks of orthodontic treatment, as your teeth and gums are adjusting to the pressure of your braces, this pressure may cause clenching and grinding habits, which can contribute to TMJ disorder. Because there are a number of factors and potential causes that play into TMJ dysfunction, it’s difficult to pinpoint a single cause.
Can braces fix TMJ disorder?
Yes! Braces can be one of the most effective treatment solutions for TMJ disorder. If your case of TMJ dysfunction is caused by misalignments in the teeth or jaw bones, braces can help relieve symptoms and prevent the disorder from progressing.
For cases that are treatable with braces or Invisalign®, one of our experienced orthodontists (Dr. Wiewiora or Dr. Dunn) can create a personalized treatment plan that aligns your jaw bones and repositions your teeth to establish an even, healthy alignment and a healthy overlap between the top and bottom teeth.
We won’t know whether your case is treatable with orthodontics until you visit us for a complimentary exam. On your first visit to one of our orthodontist offices in Longwood or Lake Mary, we will perform a thorough exam of your teeth and bite and discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing so we can help guide you toward the right decision for your smile.
What if I get TMJ dysfunction after braces?
Though it is not likely that you’ll experience TMJ disorder after braces, if you notice increased jaw pain toward the end of your treatment, reach out to your orthodontist to get their take. TMJ disorder may be caused by any number of factors, and your orthodontist can help you pinpoint the cause to minimize the symptoms.
If clenching and grinding is the cause behind your case of TMJ disorder, a custom mouthguard may be created to provide a barrier between your teeth and prevent tension and further damage. Let your orthodontist know at your next appointment, and we will help you find a solution!
Interested in braces for TMJ-D treatment?
If you experience jaw pain and are looking for relief, we’re here to help. Our experienced orthodontists near you will listen to your needs, assess your condition and help guide you down the right treatment path.
Your friends here at Wiewiora & Dunn Orthodontics will help you live your greatest quality of life – free of TMJ pain!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. If you’re ready to receive your free consultation and exam, request yours today. Or if you’d prefer a virtual consultation from the comfort of your home first, let’s get started!