Jaw Joint Clicking and/or Pain
Problems inside the jaw joints (also called temporomandibular joints or TMJ) and or associated facial muscles, can cause a host of symptoms that include: joint pain, muscle aching or joint noises (clicking or popping); also ear aches and headaches are sometimes related complaints. There are a multitude of factors that could be responsible for these signs and symptoms including some that are very difficult to determine.
It is important to note that orthodontics is not usually the cause of these symptoms. However, such problems may occur at the same time as orthodontic treatment as a matter of coincidence.
Common causes of TMJ disorders:
- You can experience chronic muscle tension which is often associated with clenching or grinding of the teeth.
- You may have parafunctional habits such as nail or lip biting which sets off dysfunctional joint action.
- Tensions in life can cause a stressed jaw posture at work or during sleep.
- Neck and shoulder muscle tensions may be a major contributor by referring pain and tightness to the jaws and face.
- The symptoms may originate from a joint disease, such as arthritis, or result after previous trauma, such as a blow to the face or sometimes from a whiplash type injury.
The severity of the symptoms may be affected by stress, tension, mood, and emotional distress; or exaggerated by faulty function of the pain suppression system at various levels of the nervous system.
Previously, it has been believed that an imperfect bite (malocclusion) and/or certain types of orthodontic treatment were the cause of jaw joint problems. However, extensive clinical research has now disproved this relationship. Bite problems that occur concurrently with TMJ disorders are usually a symptom of an underlying cause rather as a result of orthodontic treatment.
These days, a jaw joint issue is most often treated as a medical problem and not necessarily a dental problem. This is because its origins are usually musculoskeletal in nature and very similar to other aches and pains in the joints of the body.
If you have any symptoms of the jaw joints, you may find that you may need additional care from other specialised healthcare professionals such as TMJ specialist, physical therapist, and/or stress control specialist.
Orthodontic treatment cannot guarantee a cure for TMJ disorders.
If you do happen to have any TMJ signs or symptoms, you should tell your orthodontist. This will help them to advise you appropriately as to your best course of treatment.