Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jaw (mandible) and your skull. You have two of these joints, with one on either side of your head, right next to your ears. The main purpose of the TMJ is to help you open your jaw, meaning it is critical for eating and speaking.
The TMJ is prone to irritation, and many people suffer from TMJ disorder, known as TMD. This type of disorder is characterized by pain or discomfort along your jawbone, but it may also spread to your neck, face, and head. Although it can be difficult to determine the cause of TMD, contributing factors include misalignments, joint erosion, arthritis, teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism), and structural jaw issues.
Dentists and doctors can recognize TMD by inspecting your range of motion, listening to your jaw as you open and close your mouth, and applying pressure to your jaw. If the discomfort is severe, you may need to undergo X-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI scan to determine any structural damage to the bones or tissue.
In many cases, a TMD is temporary. Whether you’re under a lot of stress or have been eating chewy or hard food, the joint and jaw muscles may become inflamed and sore. For temporary TMD, nonsurgical, self-managed treatments are usually very effective, such as eating soft foods and liquids, reducing jaw activity, lowering stress levels, applying ice and heat, and performing jaw exercises.
Unfortunately, TMD can be caused by teeth misalignments, such as crossbites, underbites, or damage due to habitual grinding, requiring more comprehensive treatment. Dentists often recommend jaw or teeth misalignment treatment, such as Invisalign, to combat structural issues and alleviate TMJ discomfort.
If left untreated, misalignments like overbites and underbites can impair the function of your jaw, leading to chronic pain. Invisalign treatment uses clear aligners to move your teeth vertically and horizontally, effectively correcting jaw misalignment issues. What’s more, it can straighten your teeth, contributing to an improved smile.
Invisalign treatment takes two years on average. The first step involves a consultation, where your dentist takes digital scans and impressions of your mouth to create a treatment plan. They use these scans to fabricate a series of custom aligners that must be changed every two weeks. These aligners slowly move your teeth into the desired position, fixing the misalignment and functional issues.
Dentists recommend that you wear your aligners for 20-22 hours per day, only removing them for eating and brushing your teeth. You will be prescribed a retainer to ensure your teeth don’t revert to their former position once your treatment is complete.
Realigning your bite will minimize symptoms of TMD. This treatment also trains the jaw muscles to relax and reduce grinding, further alleviating any symptoms.
Schedule an Invisalign Consultation Today
If you’re experiencing discomfort in your jaw or face, you may be suffering from TMD. To avoid potential damage to your TMJ, seek advice from TruBlu Dentistry today.
We offer a range of services in addition to Invisalign, including cosmetic treatments like teeth whitening and restorative dentistry like dental implants. Give us a call or use our online booking system to arrange an appointment at one of our three locations.