Can Braces Cause TMJ Disorders?

senior man touches his sore jaw - Rexburg orthodontics

If you’re one of the 10 million Americans who suffers from TMJ problems, chances are you want some answers about what is causing these issues and how to fix it. TMJ stands for the Temporomandibular Joint but is also commonly used to describe the disorders or problems associated with this joint. Issues with the TMJ can cause frequent headaches, pain and tenderness in the jaw, locking of the joint and difficulty chewing, to name a few.

One of the most widely debated discussions concerning what causes TMJ or TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) is that braces are to blame. This topic has been discussed at length by many experts in both the TMJ and orthodontic field and from these discussions, the consensus is that braces may, in fact, cause TMJ problems in some patients, but it is highly unlikely that braces are the only contributing factor to these issues.

This article discusses how and when it is possible for braces to cause TMJ pain along with, other contributing factors that may be perpetuating the problems or pain. If you are currently experiencing TMJ pain while wearing Rexburg ceramic braces contact our Rexburg orthodontics office today. We will perform a full assessment in order to ensure that your braces are fitted correctly and discuss what options are available to you.

How & When Can Braces Cause TMJ Issues?

Closeup portrait young terrified girl woman scared at dentist visit, siting in chair, covering her mouth

Before we find out how and in what circumstances braces can play a role in TMJ problems, it’s important to note that TMJ is a multifactorial condition, meaning that there is no one single cause that results in TMJ pain or TMD. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how Rexburg ceramic braces could potentially play a role in aggravating TMJ issues.

Braces are designed to straighten teeth and align malocclusions (misaligned bites). Regardless of the types of braces you choose, invisible trays, ceramic, metal or clear braces in Rexburg, having braces fitted to your mouth will cause some strain on the joints and muscles of the mouth and jaw. This tension created by the braces in order to move your teeth and align your bite can occasionally create an imbalance between the lower and upper jaws, thus irritating the temporomandibular joint.

If you’ve never had TMJ pain and start to experience TMJ symptoms once your braces are on, you need to speak with your Rexburg orthodontics specialist immediately. Note: When you first get braces fitted or readjusted, you may experience some pain and even headaches which is common among most patients. Both of these symptoms are also symptoms of TMJ. If the pain and headaches last more than a few days, you may be experiencing TMJ issues rather than just the normal pain associated with getting braces put on or adjusted.

Discuss your options with your orthodontist, the most optimal solution may be that your braces just need to be readjusted to decrease the pressure from the jaw. This can be done with all forms of Rexburg braces.

Other Reasons You May Be Experiencing TMJ Pain

woman rubbing the back of her neck - Rexburg orthodontics

One of the reasons that TMD is such a frustrating issue for both patients and experts alike is that there is no one cause for this sometimes debilitating condition. For example, causes of TMJ can range from something as simple as clenching your jaw to degenerative arthritis or cancer.   When you speak with your orthodontist about your metal braces in Rexburg causing TMJ, he or she will most likely ask if you also have experienced any of the following common causes of TMJ disorders:

Stress – Yes, even everyday stress can play a part in TMJ disorders and pain. If you suffer from stress that could be considered high-stress: stress due to constant issues at work, financial worries, and obligations or other major life matters, you may be more at risk to develop some form of jaw pain. Stress can also cause many people to hold tension throughout their entire body, including their jaw.

Habits – Certain habits and certain postures can also figure into TMJ pain. Habits, like chewing on pens, biting your nails, or chewing on gum (which you should not be doing while wearing Rexburg ceramic braces), can put unnecessary pressure on the jaw muscles and joints. Similarly, bad posture and neck strain can also cause tension in this area of the body. Another common habit that is seen with many patients who suffer from TMD is Bruxism. Bruxism refers to the condition where a person grinds, gnash or clench your teeth during the night or even during the day. If you do have bruxism talk to the Rexburg orthodontics team at Randall Orthodontics to be fitted with a night guard to keep you from grinding your teeth or to discuss other treatment options that may be available.

Health Changes – According to this article, changes in your health or lifestyle can also impact your jaw. Questions you may consider asking yourself if your health or lifestyle has changed recently and now TMJ pain seems to be impacting your life more than ever are:

  • Have you stopped smoking?
  • Are you taking a new medication as prescribed by your doctor?
  • Do you suffer from anxiety or stress, diagnosed or not?
  • Have you been diagnosed with a chronic illness?
  • Do you have an autoimmune or neuromuscular disease?
  • Do you suffer from insomnia or fatigue?
  • Do you have frequent migraines or intense headaches?
  • Have you recently changed to a diet that requires you to either chew more or chew tougher foods?

If any above factors ring true for you, it may be more than just braces that are causing you to experience TMJ pain. However, to rule out whether or not your Rexburg braces need to be adjusted or if another treatment option is more suitable for your mouth structure, contact Randall Orthodontics today, no one should have to suffer for a beautiful smile.

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