Did you know that November is TMJ Awareness Month? Although TMJ disorder affects millions—especially women between the ages of 25 and 55—it is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. This TMJ Awareness Month, learn more about this common medical issue and discover how orthodontic treatment can help alleviate your TMJ pain.
So, what is TMJ disorder?
The abbreviation TMJ is short for the temporomandibular joint, where the jaw bone attaches to your skull. Usually, this joint helps your jaw slide and move smoothly. However, when you have a TMJ disorder, it means that the cartilage has become misaligned, inflamed, or has undue pressure placed on it.
The most common symptoms of TMJ are often confused for other medical issues, which can make it difficult to receive a proper diagnosis. Symptoms that may point to TMJ disorder include:
- Sinus or tension headaches
- Stiffness in neck and shoulder area
- Jaw locking or clicking
- Sensitivity and/or pain of the jaw
- A difficult time chewing
What causes TMJ disorder?
TMJ disorders can be caused by a variety of things. Sometimes, it’s the result of arthritis, stress, an injury to the jaw area, or a misaligned bite issue. To treat TMJ-related pain, your dentist, doctor, or orthodontist will first try to pinpoint any underlying causes.
How orthodontics relieve TMJ disorder
When your TMJ disorder is related to a crossbite, overbite, or underbite, orthodontic treatment can be a solution to your pain. Although pain relief usually doesn’t come to mind when people think of orthodontics, the alignment of your teeth and jaw is vital for your health. Misaligned teeth or a bad bite can lead to bruxism as well as grinding and clenching, all of which place pressure on your jaw. In turn, this pressure can lead to chronic TMJ pain. Often, TMJ disorders are multifactorial.
By using braces or clear aligners, we can correct the alignment of your teeth and jaw. And, by doing so, eliminate one of the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder. Through orthodontic treatment, we can fix your bite issues permanently while simultaneously improving the appearance of your smile!
If you are among the millions of people suffering from TMJ pain, book an appointment at Petty & Bielik Orthodontics. We look forward to evaluating your unique oral health profile and creating a treatment plan that targets your needs.