TMJ, which is short for Temporal Mandibular Joint disorder, is a joint condition that is commonly associated with either hearing a clicking sound when you open or close your mouth or pain while doing so. It is a fairly common issue that is often left undiagnosed because most of the symptoms are minor and manageable. However, when the pain escalates to a level that one can no longer bear, people often seek medical help and confirm the diagnosis.
What Causes TMJ?
The real cause of TMJ is unknown, but studies have found that there are certain physical manifestations that contribute to the disorder. These include jaw arthritis, injuries to the area or on the muscles of the neck and head, too much pressure on the joint from aggressive grinding or teeth clenching, and even stress. The temporal mandibular joint is in place to help us chew and talk. If the joint slides out of place or had experienced pressure or impact, TMJ can happen.
Treating TMJ is more of a management issue than finding a cure. Jaw surgery is only recommended if there is a structural problem or unbearable discomfort. More often, TMJ is addressed with resting, stress management exercises, mouth exercises, hot and cold compress, orthodontic appliances (such as a mouthguard), and pain medications.
Do Braces Cause TMJ?
Research has shown that there is no direct link between TMJ and braces. The same can be said for any other orthodontic treatment. In fact, one of the most recommended treatments for the condition is actually the installation of braces. This is because proper teeth alignment can provide serious relief and can correct any misaligned bones or joints in the mouth area.
If you believe you are suffering from TMJ, it is best to consult an orthodontist first to get properly diagnosed. Once the problem is diagnosed, your orthodontist might recommend appliances such as a mouthguard and braces in order to provide lasting relief.