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TMJ and Ortho

Thousand suffer from chronic facial pain and headaches. Most of the time, these patients are not aware that they suffer from temporomandibular disorders, also known as jaw pain.

Your TMJ is the joint connecting the lower jaw to the skull. These two bones are held together and function via a complex group of muscles, ligaments,
nerves, blood vessels and other soft tissues such as the jaw joint disc.

As you may imagine, these joints are used quite a lot during a single day. The jaw joint disc will ensure that comfortable, quiet jaw movement is possible, and will act as a cushion against heavy forces generated by the muscles of mastication.

When there is an imbalance between the jaws, muscles and bite, the muscles can go into spasm or the joint can start to degenerate. These changes are responsible for the discomfort most people are experiencing with TMD.

An improper bite is one of the leading causes of jaw pain and/or facial discomfort.  It will direct your muscles and jaw joints into an un-natural position. One side of the jaw joint will be compressed and the other will be stretched. The strain on your muscles, ligaments and articulating disc will accumulate and finally reach a point where inflammation will occur. The inflammation results in pain, stiffness, and swelling and reduces range of movement of your jaws. If left untreated, these symptoms can evolve into irreversible damage such as clicking, popping, pain and lockjaw.

How can TMD be treated?

In order to determine if an improper relationship exists between the upper and lower jaws, it is necessary to relax the muscles so that a precise bite evaluation can be done.

Traditionally, a bite plate will be suggested. A biteplate is a clear piece of thin plastic that is custom-made to fit over your upper or lower
teeth. The biteplate will reproduce an ideal bite providing support for your teeth, jaws while relaxing your muscles. Several appointments might be needed to adjust your biteplate. As the inflammation wears down, your bite will change returning slowly to its natural position.

With some patients, wearing this type of biteplate at night is the only type of treatment needed. However, some patients with very poor bite will
experience the same symptoms as soon as the biteplate is not worn during the day. Daily activities such as chewing and talking re-introduce the stress in the jaw joint that was initially responsible for the temporomandibular symptoms. For those patients, an orthodontic treatment may be suggested to correct their bites and provide them with ideal interaction between the jaw joints, muscles and teeth.