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Raleigh Family Orthodontics
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Raleigh, NC

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Young girl holding her cheek with TMJ pain before treatment at Raleigh Family Orthodontics in Raleigh, NCAt Raleigh Family Orthodontics, we understand the far-reaching implications of a misaligned bite or malocclusion.

Our dedicated team aims to address these orthodontic concerns proactively, not only to enhance your oral health but also to promote overall well-being. Orthodontic treatment may provide an effective solution for conditions that initially seem unrelated, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. By correcting the underlying bite issues, we can alleviate the associated symptoms and improve your quality of life.

What Is the TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a remarkable and intricate joint system that facilitates the complex movements of the lower jaw. Composed of an intricate network of muscles, ligaments, discs, and bones, this joint acts as a sophisticated sliding hinge mechanism.

This unique design enables the smooth gliding motion that allows you to move your mandible (lower jaw) forward, backward, and from side to side with ease. The TMJ is responsible for essential functions like chewing, speaking, and expressing a wide range of facial expressions.

What is TMD?

Any problem that prevents you from properly using your TMJ is known as a TMJ disorder - or TMD. TMD can affect your ability to chew, speak, yawn, smile, and laugh. The symptoms of TMD can be quite painful and even affect your day-to-day life.

Who Treats TMD?

TMJ disorders are typically treated by a team of healthcare professionals, including dentists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, physical therapists, and pain management specialists.

Dentists and orthodontists play a crucial role in diagnosing and managing TMD through non-surgical treatments like oral splints, bite adjustments, and orthodontic appliances.

If conservative treatments fail, our Raleigh,NC orthodontists may refer patients to oral and maxillofacial surgeons for surgical interventions.

What Are the Symptoms of TMD?

Individuals suffering from temporomandibular disorders (TMD) may experience a range of symptoms, including:
•  Discomfort or tenderness in the jaw, neck, and shoulder regions
•  Stiffness or tightness in the jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles
•  Difficulty in fully opening or closing the mouth
•  Audible sounds like popping, clicking, or grinding when moving the jaw
•  Challenges with chewing, speaking, or yawning
•  Swelling or inflammation in the facial or jaw area
•  A sudden change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together (bite)

What Causes TMD?

Diagnosing TMJ disorders can be a complex process due to the overlap of symptoms with other health conditions. As a result, many dental professionals face challenges in pinpointing the exact underlying cause.

While the exact cause may be elusive, many symptoms often stem from a misaligned bite or occlusion. Trauma or injury to the jaw area can also contribute to the development of TMD by causing misalignment.

Other potential causes include arthritis, habitual teeth grinding (bruxism), chronic jaw clenching, and stress-related factors.

During your initial consultation at our Raleigh office, our orthodontists, Dr. Lee and Dr. Neill, will conduct a comprehensive examination to identify the root cause of your specific symptoms.

Given the diagnostic challenges associated with TMD, your evaluation may involve advanced imaging techniques, such as digital x-rays or cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans, to aid in accurate diagnosis and treatment planning.

What Are the Two Types of TMD?

There are two main types of temporomandibular disorders.

•  Muscle Disorders
These involve pain and dysfunction in the muscles responsible for jaw movement, such as the masseter and temporalis muscles. Causes can include teeth grinding (also called bruxism), stress, injury, or poor posture.

•  Joint Disorders
These affect the TMJ itself and can involve problems with the joint disc, arthritis, or structural issues within the joint. Joint disorders may result from trauma, degenerative joint diseases, or congenital abnormalities.

Both muscle disorders and joint disorders can cause symptoms like jaw pain, clicking or popping sounds, limited jaw movement, and headaches or earaches. Proper diagnosis and treatment are essential for managing TMJ disorders effectively.

Orthodontic Treatments for TMJ Disorders

If your TMD is the result of a misalignment between your upper and lower teeth, you may qualify for orthodontic treatments. Orthodontics can be a conservative and minimally invasive approach to a problem that sometimes requires orthognathic (corrective jaw) surgery.

When most people think of braces, they think of a straighter smile. However, braces are also an excellent way to correct your bite and can relieve any painful symptoms. Braces can also be used to alleviate teeth grinding and jaw clenching, which is closely related to TMD.

If you are concerned with the cosmetics of traditional braces, we may recommend Invisalign clear aligner trays. A series of clear aligners can move your teeth and correct your bite in a very discreet manner. Unless they look very closely at your teeth, most people will not even notice you are wearing Invisalign!

Conservative, non-surgical treatments for TMD include intraoral appliances like night mouth guards, which "are also known as splints, stabilization appliances, occlusal splints, interocclusal splints, or bruxism splints," according to the The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Schedule a TMJ Evaluation With Your Raleigh Orthodontists Today!

If you suffer from problems with your TMJ, you may benefit from orthodontic treatment. Call us at (984) 254-0585 to schedule your consultation now!
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