Many factors can cause temperomandibular disorder (TMD), one of which can be misaligned teeth. So it begs the question: can Invisalign fix TMJ issues?

If you suffer from TMJ pain you know how debilitating the problem can be. Day to day functions such as yawning and eating can become a chore and you can end up suffering not only physically but psychologically too.

From a treatment perspective, it can be difficult to find remedies that work. This isn’t through lack of effort or expertise from your dentist, but because TMJ issues are simply very difficult to solve.

In the quest to help your jaw joint problems we’ll ask ‘Can Invisalign fix TMJ issues?’

So what is your TMJ?

can Invisalign sort TMJ issues

The TMJ is the hinge joint either side of your face that is used for opening and closing your mouth and stands for temperomandibular joint. It consists of the joint between your mandible and temporal bone with a disc between the bones. Your jaw muscles pull on the mandible to move it around when you talk and eat.

How do you know if you have TMJ issues?

Symptoms of temperomandibular joint dysfunction include:

  • Pain and tenderness of your jaw when moving it
  • Pain and tenderness over your jaw joint in front of your ears
  • Headaches
  • Pain chewing
  • Clicking or grinding sounds from the jaw joint
  • Locking open or closed mouth
  • Limited ability to open your mouth
  • Tooth wear due to grinding

What causes TMJ dysfunction?

It’s often hard to get to the true cause of TMJ problems. There are many variables which can influence jaw pain and it can start and disappear on its own accord for no apparent reason.

More straight forward reasons include arthritis in the TMJ joint, bruxism (grinding or clenching) or traumatic injury.

But there are lots of other possibilities and these can get complicated. For example, clenching can cause TMJ disorder, but is that the problem or is the stressful lifestyle resulting in the clenching the real problem?

Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and depression can all lead to TMJ problems. Try not to fixate on the problem as this can lead to more worry than is necessary.

The obvious cause relating to this article is a poor bite. If your bite is out and your teeth don’t meet properly this can sometimes cause TMJ pain.

So if we move teeth to their correct position the problem may go away, right?

Surely Invisalign can fix TMJ issues then?

invisalign aligners for TMJ

To know this you need to understand briefly how Invisalign works.

Invisalign is a form of orthodontic treatment. It’s essentially a way of moving teeth around to straighten a smile using aligners rather than traditional braces.

The big difference between Invisalign and traditional braces is Invisalign is generally a cosmetic treatment. It’s used to straighten the teeth on show when you smile to make them look better and doesn’t focus on your back molar teeth.

It’s generally these molar teeth which set up your bite.

So do I recommend Invisalign to fix TMJ issues?

Because Invisalign orthodontic treatment doesn’t move back teeth, it’s unlikely to ever cause TMJ issues.

But can Invisalign fix TMJ issues?

This is also unclear and occasionally Invisalign or any orthodontic treatment can exacerbate it, especially if psychological reasons for TMD are in play.

The problem with fixing TMJ disorder is it’s difficult no matter what we suggest. As long as it’s not affecting your life it’s usually a job of managing it and not curing it. TMJ disorder is often self-limiting and just needs time to go away.

If you’re considering Invisalign treatment., your dentist should do a TMJ check before you begin to determine potential problems. If they find you have TMJ issues then I’d advise you should work together to control this prior to beginning teeth straightening.


AUTHOR

Dr Gareth Edwards Dentist AuthorDr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg) qualified as a dentist with honours. He has a keen interest in orthodontics and aesthetic dentistry and is a certified Invisalign and Six Month Smiles provider. Dr Edwards now works in the Ferndown & Bournemouth area of Dorset, UK.

 

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