If you have a jaw that pops or clicks or experiences discomfort, then you may have a jaw joint disorder. Over ten million people in the United States suffer from TMJ disorder, also known as TMD. This jaw joint disorder can lead to serious consequences, including difficulty even opening and closing the mouth. You may wonder, “Why do I have TMJ issues?” Fortunately, there are treatment options available.
Frequently Asked Questions About TMJ Disorder
Question: What causes the issue?
Answer: TMD develops when our jaw joints undergo excessive amounts of stress. Since the joints connect our jaw to the skull, the strain affects our ability to open and close the mouth. Misalignment, tooth loss, injury, and bruxism (teeth grinding) can all place strain on these joints.
Question: How do I know I need treatment?
Answer: You may notice discomfort related to your jaw, a popping or clicking sensation, headaches, earaches, and pain in the neck or shoulders. If one or more of these symptoms sound familiar then consider talking to your orthodontist about a diagnosis.
Question: Can this lead to other complications?
Answer: Yes. In addition to troubles opening and closing the mouth fully, the disorder is often linked to teeth grinding. When a patient grinds his/her teeth, the teeth can become worn down, chipped, or cracked. This leads to a greater risk of tooth decay, infection, and in severe cases, tooth loss.
Question: How will the doctor treat my TMD?
Answer: In order to treat the issue the doctor will need to assess the cause. If the issue is related to misalignment then orthodontic treatment can often address the issue. For minor cases, the patient may benefit from Invisalign, which uses clear plastic aligners to straighten the teeth. More serious cases of misalignment may need more traditional braces, which use metal brackets and teeth to reposition the teeth.