What Disorders Require TMJ/TMD Treatment?

Being in need of TMJ/TMD treatment is, understandably, exhausting for many patients. Temporomandibular affections, or temporomandibular disorders (TMD), are a group of problems faced by many patients all over the US. In fact, the University of Illinois Chicago estimates that around 10 million people in the US alone face problems related to their Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and the jaw muscles surrounding it.

Have you experienced pain around your jaw that you simply cannot place? Does your jaw lock when you yawn? These may be related to a case of TMD, and we’re certain that this article will help you set some ideas in order to understand better what is happening with you and what resources are available to fix this problem.

Please keep in mind that we have to make an important distinction between TMD and TMJ. TMJ is the joint that connects the jawbone to the base of your skull. Its function is primarily limited to enabling movements that allow you to chew your food, speak, and yawn.

TMJ Disorders: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Temporomandibular affections, or temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), refer to a group of conditions affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the jaw muscles surrounding it. TMDs can cause a lot of pain depending on the severity of the case, and no patient with even the slightest form of TMD is free from experiencing discomfort. Unfortunately, some cases can lead to dysfunction of the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles, affecting the person’s ability to perform basic oral functions.

Don’t worry, though, as our team is here to review your case and help whenever possible. Orthodontics, as a branch of dentistry, can help identify and treat some facial irregularities, including TMDs. Let’s explore that relationship a bit further and check what orthodontics can do for you.

What Is TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder)?

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) refers to a group of conditions that affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the muscles surrounding it. The TMJ is the joint on each side of the face that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull.

It is precisely because of this that orthodontic treatments in San Ramon, such as wearing traditional metal braces or Invisalign clear aligners, can help you. As the orthodontic appliances correct your dental misalignment and jaw malocclusion (which is nothing more than a fancy name referring to bad jaw positioning), you can get a well-balanced bite that reduces stress over your TMJ and could alleviate symptoms of your TMD.

What Are the Common Symptoms of TMD?

TMJ symptoms can manifest as various issues, like jaw pain, facial pain, joint pain, clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth, difficulty or discomfort while chewing, and even headaches or earaches.

The real problem is that there is no clear cause of TMD, which means there is a lot of overlap between the symptoms that could be, potentially, only related to TMD and the ones that are related to many other health or skeletal problems.

You should pay close attention to the way you’re feeling and determine if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. We’ll categorize them for your ease. Please look below and get in touch with our office if you notice any of the following:

  • Myofascial symptoms. Pain, which involves discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw movement;
  • Internal derangement of the joint. This is characterized by a dislocated disc or displaced jaw.
  • Structural issues within the joint. Arthritis refers to inflammation or generative changes in the TMJ, along with other problems that could result in the development of a TMD.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

As mentioned before, there is no clear cause of TMD that orthodontists or other professionals can point to avoid the development of this condition. The causes of TMJ disorder, or TMD, can be a combination of factors.

There are, of course, some cases where it might be easier to determine what medical conditions are actively contributing to the development of a TMJ Disorder in San Ramon. Here are some of those risk factors:

  • Jaw injuries
  • Teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism)
  • Misalignment of the teeth or jaw, stress, or arthritis.
  • Jaw injuries: Trauma to the jaw or muscles, such as from a car accident or sports injury, can lead to TMJ disorder San Ramon.

Please pay close attention to any of the following, as some of these are bad habits that can build up stress on your TMJ over time and make it more likely for you to suffer from TMD. Granted, others are chronic conditions you have no control over, but knowing about their relationship with TMD can still go a long way in helping you identify the required treatment to alleviate and treat the symptoms.

  • Teeth grinding or bruxism: Habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth, often during sleep or due to stress, can strain the TMJ and contribute to TMD.
  • Misalignment of the teeth or jaw: Irregularities in the way the teeth fit together (malocclusion) or a misaligned jaw can put excessive stress on the TMJ and lead to TMD.
  • Arthritis: Various forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause inflammation and degenerative changes in the TMJ.
  • Emotional stress: Psychological factors like stress, anxiety, or tension can cause individuals to clench their jaw or tighten their facial muscles, potentially contributing to TMD.
  • Connective tissue disorders: Certain connective tissue disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or lupus, can affect the TMJ.
  • Hormonal factors: Hormonal changes, particularly in women, may play a role in TMD. Fluctuations in estrogen levels have been associated with an increased risk of developing TMD.

TMJ Face Distortion?

TMD does not typically cause significant changes in your facial appearance. The real problem here is that, when left untreated, TMD can start to change the surrounding oral and maxillofacial structures, leading to changes in your appearance.

The effects can include asymmetry or swelling around the jaw area or altered facial expressions due to discomfort, causing a “TMJ face shape.”

Take a look at a few ways that can make some people say, “TMJ ruined my face!”

  • Tooth wear. Due to the imbalances caused by TMD, some teeth may be at an increased risk of suffering from tear and wear. The most common way this happens is that patients chew their food considerably more with one side of their mouth than the other. This uneven tear and wear can lead to a slanted appearance when you close your teeth and mouth.
  • Joint displacement. Some patients have to then deal with a displaced TMJ as a direct result of the deterioration of the padding around the joint. Such a problem can make your jaw uneven when you open and close. In this case, you will need specialized TMJ treatment in San Ramon to re-align the disk.
  • Skeletal development and bone irregularities. TMD patients may experience it as a result of a congenital disorder related to their skeletal development, resulting in one side of their jawbone becoming shorter than the other.
  • Overdeveloped jaw muscles. As the joint loses its ability to perform the movements it’s intended to perform, your jaw muscles have to compensate and work much harder. These over-developed jaw muscles will bulge out, and your face might begin to look different.
  • Spinal imbalance. Over time, your San Ramon TMD can cascade throughout your body, affecting your neck and even the alignment of your spine.

Can Orthodontics Fix TMJ Disorder?

Orthodontics can play a role in the management of TMJ disorder, although it is not a standalone solution.

While orthodontic treatment cannot directly fix the underlying causes of TMD, it can help improve the alignment of the teeth and jaws, potentially alleviating TMD symptoms and reducing stress on the temporomandibular joint.

Orthodontic interventions, such as braces, aligners, or other functional appliances, aim to correct malocclusion (bad bite) and align the teeth in a more optimal position.

Proper alignment of the teeth contributes to a well-balanced bite, which can reduce excessive strain and pressure on the TMJ. By optimizing the occlusion (the way the upper and lower teeth come together), orthodontic interventions can help to minimize excessive strain on the TMJ and associated muscles.

The success of orthodontic treatment in managing TMD depends on various factors, such as the specific underlying causes of the individual’s TMD, the severity of their condition, and the overall treatment approach.

Can Orthodontics Cause TMJ Disorder?

San Ramon Orthodontics, when performed by a skilled and knowledgeable orthodontist, does not cause TMD. However, certain factors include inappropriate treatment planning, excessive or inappropriate forces applied during tooth movement, or pre-existing TMJ issues that were not properly diagnosed before orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontists must evaluate the TMJ condition before initiating treatment to ensure the appropriate management of TMDs during orthodontic procedures. This may involve collaborating with other dental specialists, such as oral and maxillofacial surgeons or physiotherapists, to develop comprehensive treatment plans that address both the orthodontic and TMD aspects.

With proper diagnosis, treatment planning, and monitoring, orthodontics can be safe and effective without causing TMD.

Who Treats TMJ Disorder (TMD)?

If TMD is your problem, you might require help from a group of dental specialists. The main healthcare professionals involved in the treatment of TMD include orthodontists and oral and temporomandibular surgeons.

Orthodontists play a crucial role in the management of TMD. They specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities, including malocclusion and misalignment of the teeth.

San Ramon Orthodontists may also work in collaboration with other dental specialists to develop comprehensive treatment plans for patients with TMD.

In more complex cases of TMD, oral and temporomandibular surgeons may help. These oral surgeons are trained in diagnosing and treating disorders of the mouth, jaws, and facial structures.

They can provide surgical interventions if conservative therapy/treatments can’t correct the TMD symptoms or if there are structural issues within the TMJ that require surgical correction.

Other San Ramon specialists, such as physiotherapists (physical therapists) or pain management specialists, may also be part of the multidisciplinary approach to managing TMD.

Contact Bigman Orthodontics For TMJ Treatment in San Ramon, CA

Dr. Bigman is committed to delivering the best care possible. At Bigman Orthodontics, the services and treatment options are many. San Ramon Braces and surgery, as well as Invisalign, sleep apnea solutions, and TMJ treatment, are available.

Set a dental consultation to meet the team and alleviate your worries.