TMJ is a disorder of the jaw joints which creates jaw and bite alignment malfunctions in individuals suffering from this dental disorder. The lower jaw is designed to slide and rotate to provide for range of motion when chewing and speaking. The causes of TMJ can range from grinding of the teeth, clenching of the jaw, highly stressful lifestyle, as well as age-related wearing down of the jaw bone and joint.
Some physical symptoms of TMJ include extreme jaw pain and discomfort, headaches, facial pain, clicking of the jaw at the joints, limited jaw mobility, excessively worn out teeth, locking of the jaw, earaches, and ringing in the ears. While most TMJ symptoms are merely mild to moderate in severity, certain symptoms such as the limiting of jaw mobility can create serious health problems such as the inability to chew food properly, which could lead to nutritional deficiencies. TMJ may also create sleeping difficulties due to the substantial amount of pain in the jaw.
There are several treatment options available through orthodontics for TMJ. Some of the more common treatments of TMJ include resting the joints of the jaw, stress management techniques to reduce clenching of the jaw, pain medications, mouth exercises, heat and cold compresses, and orthopedic appliances such as mouth guards to reduce the effects of tooth grinding. Once pain relief is achieved, orthodontic treatment can follow to help with long-term stability and function.