Living with aching or clicking jaws can be hard to swallow! Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, also commonly known as TMJ or TMD, is a joint disorder that affects the opening and closing of the jaw, and can have many side effects that relate to the teeth, head and neck.
Like other joints, the relationship between the bone and disk will affect how well the joint works. The jaw is used thousands of times a day for talking, eating and laughing. When a disorder is present in the joint, your lifestyle can be dramatically changed.
Some of the side effects associated with TMD include:
o Neck pain
o Grinding / bruxism
o Clicking or locking of jaw joints
o Excess tooth wear
o Jaw pain and stiffness
o Difficulty opening the mouth
o Problems chewing food
One of the causes of TMD is tooth misalignment and bite discrepancy. When your teeth do not occlude or come together properly, the jaw joint will attempt to compensate for this. Over time, this compensated motion will strain the joint and surrounding muscles, creating pain and stiffness. Simply taking pain relievers or applying a warm compress may relieve symptoms, but they do not prevent the cause of the problem, which is only certain to return.
Orthodontic therapy is part of a comprehensive approach in the treatment and prevention of TMJ disorders. By recreating a proper bite relationship between your teeth, your jaw can once again be in the properly functioning position and be given the ability to relax. Compared to many invasive surgical procedures, orthodontics is an effective, minimally invasive way to treat and prevent your TMJ disorder.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms in your jaw, face, neck or head, contact McNamara Orthodontics to schedule an appointment so we can help!