By now you know that getting orthodontic treatment can improve the appearance of your smile by making your teeth straight. But did you know it can also make your smile feel better? Many patients who get orthodontic treatment primarily to have a better-looking smile are often surprised at just how much more comfortable their jaws feel afterward. And if you’re experiencing chronic jaw pain, getting braces or Invisalign could be what you need in order to feel more comfortable on a daily basis.
What Causes Jaw Pain?
The primary source of jaw pain orthodontic treatment can address is temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a very active joint in the body located where your jaw pivots to open your mouth any time you eat or speak. Since it’s such an important joint, any misalignment is going to result in noticeable pain.
Symptoms of TMD
It’s often not hard to notice if you have TMD since you use your jaws so often every day to speak and eat. And even when the joint isn’t active, having alignment issues can put stress on the tendons and muscles, causing chronic pain.
Some common symptoms of TMD include:
- Popping or clicking when opening your mouth
- Chronic headaches or neck aches
- Pain or ringing in the ears
- Limited ability to move your jaw
How Orthodontics Addresses Jaw Pain
When you get braces or Invisalign, you can have a treatment plan created to help address the causes of your jaw pain.
One of the most common ways braces can help alleviate jaw pain is by adding elastic bands to your appliances. Small metal hooks can be attached to the brackets to act as an anchor for these bands. These hooks can also be added to Invisalign by cutting out a little notch in the trays to make room for the metal attachments on your teeth.
These bands will then create pressure that pulls the jaw in the direction needed. Both of these conditions will put undue stress on the TMJ by forcing you to correct the position of your jaw when you eat, speak, or anytime you need to bite down.
But when you have an aligned bite, your jaw will be able to relax and the pressure in your mouth will be evenly distributed. Straightening your teeth can help reduce jaw pain as well since you won’t have any crooked teeth being subjected to excessive pressure.
Other Forms of Jaw Pain Relief
While orthodontic treatment can often address TMD and help patients live more comfortable lives, it won’t be able to address all cases of TMD and it may not alleviate other types of jaw pain.
If braces aren’t able to address your jaw pain, orthotics could be a good solution, which involves using appliances on the bottom teeth to fix alignment and relieve pressure in the TMJ. Patients can also be referred to physical therapists who specialize in jaw pain.
To learn more about how orthodontics can help alleviate jaw pain and to schedule your free consultation, contact Smith Orthodontics today!