Orthodontic therapy (commonly referred to as orthodontics) often involves using traditional metal braces or clear, removable aligners to realign the teeth and enhance the bite. Here, let’s discuss what are orthodontics and temporomandibular disorders (TMD)?
TMD refers to a group of medical conditions that affect the joints and muscles of the jaw. These conditions can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty chewing and speaking. A sizable fraction of the population suffers from TMD. Its exact cause is unknown, but clenching and grinding of the teeth are suspected contributors.
Orthodontic treatment is a potential solution for TMD. Orthodontic treatment is a specialised branch of dentistry that focuses on diagnosing, preventing, and correcting dental and facial irregularities.
Traditionally, orthodontic treatment has been associated with straightening teeth and improving the bite. Still, technological advances have made it possible to address a broader range of dental and facial issues, including TMD.
Orthodontic treatment can help TMD by addressing underlying issues with the bite and alignment of the teeth. Misaligned teeth can put undue pressure on the jaw joint, leading to inflammation and pain.
Correcting the alignment and relationship between the upper and lower teeth can often relieve TMD symptoms significantly. The following are some orthodontic treatments that have proven effective in treating TMD:
- Braces: Braces are a common orthodontic treatment involving attaching brackets to the teeth and using wires to gradually shift the teeth into alignment. Braces can correct bite issues contributing to TMD, including overbites, underbites, and crossbites.
- Invisalign: This method uses clear, removable aligners to straighten teeth. Invisalign can effectively treat mild to moderate TMD cases by addressing bite issues and reducing pressure on the jaw joint.
- Splints and night guards: Orthodontists can also provide patients with splints and night guards to help manage TMD symptoms. These custom-fitted appliances can reduce teeth clenching and grinding and support the jaw muscles, reducing inflammation and pain.
- Orthodontic surgery: In severe cases of TMD, orthodontic surgery may be necessary to correct bite issues and reduce pressure on the jaw joint. Orthodontic surgery can involve reshaping the jawbone, repositioning the teeth, or both. This procedure is typically done with other treatments and requires extended healing.
What Are The Causes Of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Teeth grinding is a significant cause of TMJ disorder because it exerts enormous pressure on the joint, aggravating an inflamed joint.
Teeth clenching also contributes to the condition because it tightens the facial and jaw muscles, which increases the pressure on the joint. In addition to clenching and grinding the teeth, arthritis can also affect the temporal mandibular joint.
Stress is another factor that aggravates TMJ, particularly if you engage in strenuous activity, such as lifting large objects because teeth grinding and clenching overwork the jaw muscles.
What Are the TMJ Symptoms?
- Constant migraines and neck pain
- Pain in the ear and surrounding regions
- Pain in the mandible that is more pronounced in the morning or late afternoon
- Jaw discomfort during yawning, biting, and gnawing
- A clicking sound when opening or closing the jaws
- Muscle tenderness and soreness in the mandible
- Irritation of the dentition
- Problems with opening and closing the jaw
TMJ is twice as likely to affect women (specifically those in the childbearing age range) as it is to affect men.
TMD can be a painful condition affecting a person’s quality of life. Orthodontic treatment can help manage TMD symptoms by correcting dental and facial irregularities that contribute to the condition.
If you are experiencing TMD symptoms, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to discuss your treatment options. The orthodontist will then determine the best course of action to improve your overall oral health.