Long Beach, CA – One common problem many adults complain about is TMJ pain. The temporomandibular joint is one of the most commonly used joints in the body. Think of how many times you open and close your mouth in a day – it is needed to speak, eat, and so much more. When it is working properly, you probably don’t even notice it. But when it isn’t, it can lead to jaw pain, earaches, headaches, locking of the jaw, even neck pain can be associated with a poorly functioning TMJ.
TMJ disorder occurs most commonly in women, and can be caused by a variety of factors. If you suffer from arthritis, have ever had your jaw dislocated, deal with stress, or have a poorly aligned bite, you may develop TMJ disorder. TMD can be muscle-related or joint-related, so depending on the origin of the problem, the treatments can vary. Luckily, though, an orthodontist can offer relief from your pain and discomfort.
In fact, orthodontic treatment is a very common way to relieve the pain of TMJ disorder, especially for those whose TMJ pain is caused by a bad bite. Many people mistakenly believe that orthodontics is only about cosmetic appearances. While a straight smile is definitely one of the benefits of orthodontic treatment, it isn’t the only one. Orthodontists must also work to properly align the patient’s bite. If the jaws are misaligned leading to a poor bite, more problems can occur including cracked and broken teeth from the uneven pressure being placed, as well as TMJ pain.
TMJ disorder occurs when the lower jaw is misaligned. Braces can actually be one of the most effective treatments. Braces not only straighten the teeth, but ensure the bite is properly aligned, as well. For older patients who no longer have the benefit of a still growing jaw, an orthodontist will work in conjunction with an oral surgeon to ensure a patient has the full scope of treatment needed to correct the bite and align the teeth.
But not every patient is ready for orthodontic treatment and/or jaw surgery. There is another common treatment for TMJ sufferers that is less invasive. A nightguard or splint can be created by your orthodontist. A nightguard will be worn only at night, while a splint can be worn around the clock. A splint and a nightguard will hold the teeth slightly apart, in order to disarticulate and relieve pressure on the joints.
Splints and nightguards can be great temporary solutions, but for a patient who doesn’t want to have to remember to wear an appliance every day, orthodontic treatment can be an excellent option. Braces work to actually correct the actual cause of the TMJ symptoms, rather than just mitigating it for a period of time.
Orthodontic treatment can occur at any age, and if you suffer from TMJ, you can live a pain free life. Call our office today at 562-283-6590 for your free consultation.