Jaw Misalignment and TMJ
Your TMJ, also known as the temporomandibular joint, is the most frequently used joint in our bodies. We use this joint everyday to breathe, drink, eat, and talk. This joint can also be the cause of serious pain if the jaw is misaligned. When the joint and jaw are working together you should be able to smoothly bring your teeth together without too much pressure or impact. When you jaw is misaligned, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Change in the way you bite
- Constant facial pain or headaches
- Stiff or painful jaw leading to difficulty chewing
- Trouble with speaking clearly due to a stiff, or painful, jaw
- Pain or pressure in the jaw when laying down making it hard to sleep
- Popping, clicking, or grinding sound
Treatment will be determined based on what is triggering your pain and your history is TMJ issues. For minor issues there are numerous non-invasive treatment options available. Muscle relaxation can help relieve tension in the muscles allowing the jaw to realign on its own. Braces, or expanders, are used to help stretch the palate and reposition teeth, which can help the jaw align correctly. Custom dental appliances can be made to gently place the muscles around the TMJ joint back into their correct position. If none of these treatments seem to be working, or if your TMJ disorder and alignment are too severe, jaw surgery may be recommended.
Many people with TMJ disorders are surprised to learn their diagnosis. The lower jaw may be correctly positioned to allow for a proper alignment of teeth, but this alignment may not be ideal for the ball within the TMJ. Because an outwards appearance may not show any obvious signs of misalignment it makes diagnosing TMJ disorders more challenging. If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.