A maladjusted set of teeth can be harder to clean and care for, causing more cavities and possibly even greater problems if teeth are growing all over each other and scratching each other up. But other problems can also surface because of an uneven bite, and one of the most painful ones is TMJ syndrome.
What is TMJ syndrome?
The TMJ is the temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects the lower jaw to the upper one. It is one of the most frequently used parts of your body, and if it ever starts to hurt, you will understand just how often it’s really used. Just imagine the agony of feeling a sharp jab of pain every time you open you mouth or even move your jaw, every motion when chewing, biting, or speaking. This is the agony that those with TMJ disorder feel. Sometimes the joint is swollen or worn because of uneven chewing, and sometimes the ligament can tear, causing immense pain, lockjaw, and the inability to speak or eat. But usually TMJ syndrome “merely” means a nagging pain every time you wish to speak or eat, coupled with headache, neck pain, and even back pain.
The role of orthodontics
Orthodontics can help prevent TMJ syndrome from occurring. By evening out your bite, you will reduce the stress that is put on your temporomandibular joint, and thus the symptoms will cease as well. Keep in mind that orthodontic treatment puts your teeth through phases, and in certain phases, TMJ syndrome may develop, or an existing pain may become more severe. Don’t worry, this is only temporary, it will pass. In the meantime, there are several things you can do to ease the pain.
Ease the pain
Try and force yourself to bite and chew on the other side of your jaw. When relaxing your face, make sure that your teeth are as even as possible, and that your TMJ is completely relaxed. If the pain is being caused by bruxism (the habit of grinding your teeth at night), then you are lucky and your solutions is simple. Simply jump into the nearest sports store, buy a tooth guard, and use it when you sleep.
An oral splint is another useful tool. It is basically a mouthguard purpose-made to fit over your teeth and push them straight. When you put it on your TMJ will be relieved of pressure and stress, and thus can start healing. Chewing gum can help ease the pain if your TMJ is stiff, but if it is damaged than a liquid diet and an ice pack are in order. At any rate, jaw pain can be relieved, but you need to see a dentist. The situation is just as severe as a toothache, and requires medical assistance for an actual cure.