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Busting Braces Myths: “Braces cause TMJ disorder”

There are quite a few braces myths out there, and we’re here to bust a few! If you’ve heard that braces can cause TMJ, you may be hesitant to schedule your first orthodontic exam

We don’t want myths to stop you from experiencing your best smile yet. Here’s everything you need to know about your TMJ and braces causing TMJ disorder:


What is TMJ disorder?

TMJ is short for ‘temporomandibular joint’. This joint is located in the jaw, connecting the jaw bone to the skull. Your TMJ is essentially a hinge that allows your jaw to open, close, slide forward, backward and side to side. 

With TMJ disorder, this joint is not functioning properly and movement of the jaw is weakened or hindered.


Symptoms of TMJ disorder

Problems with the TMJ can cause:

  • Jaw pain
  • Nerve pain in the jaw, neck and head
  • Facial muscle pain and soreness
  • Jaw clicking or popping
  • Jaw locking
  • Difficulty chewing or biting 


Can braces cause TMJ disorder?

Consider this myth busted! Studies published by the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry have shown there to be no evidence that braces cause TMJ disorder. 

However, this condition can become more apparent as the teeth are moved into alignment with braces, which may lead a patient to associate TMJ disorder with braces. 

During the first few weeks of orthodontic treatment, as your teeth and gums are adjusting to the pressure of your braces, this pressure may cause clenching and grinding habits, which can contribute to TMJ disorder. 


What causes TMJ disorder?

There are a number of factors and potential causes that play into TMJ dysfunction, making it difficult to pinpoint a single cause.

Overall, TMJ disorder results from a strain in the TMJ, which can occur when a disk in the jaw moves out of alignment or erodes due to wear and tear, or an impact damages the joint. Any of the following causes can lead to a compromised TMJ:

  • Bruxism: clenching and grinding your teeth habitually
  • Trauma that causes damage to the jaw or neck
  • Stress
  • Arthritis 
  • Jaw or teeth misalignments that cause tension in the jaw


Can braces fix TMJ disorder?

Yes! Braces can be one of the most effective treatment solutions for TMJ disorder. If your case of TMJ dysfunction is caused by misalignments in the teeth or jaw bones, braces can help relieve symptoms and prevent the disorder from progressing. 

For cases that are treatable with braces or Invisalign®, one of our experienced orthodontists (Dr. Cetta or Dr. Guloy) can create a personalized treatment plan that aligns your jaw bones and repositions your teeth to establish an even, healthy alignment and a healthy overlap between the top and bottom teeth.  

Our orthodontists also offer a dynamic splint, which is an acrylic orthodontic appliance that can help keep the upper and lower teeth apart to provide TMJ pain relief and help ease tension on the jaws. 

We won’t know whether your case is treatable with orthodontics or which treatment route is best for you until you visit us for a complimentary exam. On your first visit to our orthodontist office in Tampa or East Bradenton, we will perform a thorough exam of your teeth and bite and discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing so we can help guide you toward the right decision for your smile.


What if I get TMJ dysfunction after braces?

Though it is not likely that you’ll experience TMJ disorder after braces, if you notice increased jaw pain toward the end of your treatment, reach out to your orthodontist to get their take. TMJ disorder may be caused by any number of factors, and your orthodontist can help you pinpoint the cause to minimize the symptoms. 

If clenching and grinding is the cause behind your case of TMJ disorder, a custom mouthguard may be created to provide a barrier between your teeth and prevent tension and further damage. Let your orthodontist know at your next appointment, and we will help you find a solution!


Interested in braces for TMJ-D treatment?

If you experience jaw pain and are looking for relief, we’re here to help. Our experienced orthodontist near you will listen to your needs, assess your condition and help guide you down the right treatment path.

Your friends here at Blue Wave Orthodontics will help you look good, do good and feel good – without TMJ pain!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. If you’re ready to receive your free consultation and exam, request yours today!

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