Phoenix Orthodontist

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) and Orthodontics


The temporomandibular joint is a small but important joint that connects the jaw bone and the skull. It is also commonly termed as TMJ. Aside from providing that essential connection, this joint makes it possible for the jaw to move when a person speaks or eats. But there are instances when things go wrong and a person suddenly experiences pain, locking of the jaw, or difficulty in eating or speaking. These concerns may already be signs that a person has temporomandibular joint disorder.

A brief background on Temporomandibular or TMJ Disorder

The TMJ disorder describes any of the disorders or problems occurring in the temporomandibular joint. Because of the underlying problem, the person suffers from acute or chronic pain in the TMJ or jaw area. Most of the time, the problem also involves the inflammation of the joint. The pain and inflammation experienced can be attributed to one or more causes. This variable causes or factors make the diagnostic results distinct from one patient to another.

The causes of the disorder

Among the cited causes or factors that may result to the disorder include:

–        The massive and constant pressure inflicted to the joint when the teeth is constantly grinding or clenching.

–        The disk that cushions the joint’s connection between the jaw bone and the skull has been dislocated or severely damaged.

–        When the patient is suffering from rheumatoid or osteoarthritis on the temporomandibular joint itself.

–        Certain dental problems and misalignment of the patient’s teeth or jaw.

–        Or, mental and emotional stress which causes a person to constantly tighten his or her jaw and facial muscles.

The symptoms of the disorder

A person suffering from this disorder may experience: acute or chronic pain in the TMJ or jaw area; headache and facial muscle pain; ear pain because the affected joint is very close to it; difficulty in eating, chewing, or opening the mouth widely; unusual grating, popping, or sounds produced in the jaw area; swelling or inflammation on the side of the face; dizziness; sensations of fullness or ringing on the ear; and the possible locking or immobility of the jaws.

Treatment alternatives

The type of treatment that shall be administered to a patient varies dependent on the nature and of the TMJ disorder, its particular cause, and the severity of the condition. Possible solutions range from simple resting, heat and ice therapy, physical therapy, stress management, occlusal therapy and up to the more complex medications, surgery, and corrective orthodontics treatment.

How your Phoenix Orthodontist can help solve Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder

As mentioned above, orthodontics is one of the treatment alternatives for the TMJ disorder. And one of the cited causes of this disorder emanates not from the temporomandibular joint itself but actually on the teeth and the jaws. Orthodontics is a dental field that primarily aims to provide treatment by correcting the deformities, misalignments, or abnormalities concerning the growth and development of the teeth and the jaws. If the TMJ disorder and its symptoms are brought by these abnormalities, orthodontics can be helpful in solving the TMJ concern. Corrective orthodontic treatments use a range of solutions from braces, plates, headgears, etc just to correct and solve the observed misalignment or deformity.

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