How Is Malocclusion Related to Jaw Pain and What Can I Do About It?

Link between malocclusions and jaw pain

Jaw pain may indicate a more serious issue.

Jaw pain can be a nuisance at best and incapacitating at worst. Sometimes, the issue is caused by unconscious teeth grinding (bruxism), while other times, it can be the result of tooth decay or an infection. However, it is also possible that malocclusion may be the source of your discomfort. 

If malocclusion is causing your jaw pain, there are ways to address it through orthodontic treatment so that you can start living your life free of daily discomfort. 

What is malocclusion?

Malocclusion is the technical term used to describe misalignment between the top and bottom jaw, also referred to as a bad bite. When your teeth don’t meet properly, this can result in a variety of different unpleasant symptoms, potentially including TMJ.

What is TMJ?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It’s the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. 

Malocclusion can strain the TMJ and the muscles in the jaw. When the TMJ does not function properly, it can result in various uncomfortable symptoms, such as difficulty chewing and significant jaw pain.

What are the causes of malocclusion?

To find the best solution for your jaw pain, it is essential to first identify the cause of your malocclusion.

Sometimes, a bad bite is a simple matter of anatomy. But there are also certain behaviors that can lead to a case of malocclusion that otherwise would never have occurred. 

Common causes of a bad bite include:

1. Teeth Crowding

There are instances when the mouth is simply too small to fit all of the teeth, which can result in teeth crowding. Teeth crowding not only makes for an uneven smile that can leave you feeling self-conscious, but it can also increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease — and it can result in malocclusion.

2. Thumb Sucking Beyond a Certain Age

It’s extremely common for young children to suck their thumb or other fingers as a means of self-soothing and relieving discomfort from teething. That’s why the pacifier was invented. 

However, thumb sucking or pacifier use beyond the age of about 4 or 5 can force a child’s teeth to come in improperly, or even to not fully erupt, which will result in malocclusion.  

3. Mouth Breathing

Believe it or not, breathing from the mouth rather than the nose during development can cause a disruption in a child’s regular growth pattern. Sometimes, this may even result in a bad bite.

4. Missing Teeth

When teeth are missing, that open space in the mouth leaves room for the existing teeth to shift around. If teeth are missing for long enough, the shifting can become so significant that the bite is affected.

How can malocclusion be treated?

If malocclusion goes untreated, the uneven force of your bite can put excess strain on your jaw muscles, which may result in consistent jaw pain on top of other unpleasant issues. Fortunately, there are ways to treat malocclusion that are likely to eliminate jaw pain altogether.

1. Braces

The traditional means of treating malocclusion is with metal braces. Braces are designed to slowly shift the teeth into an ideal position over the course of around a year or two on average. 

This form of orthodontic treatment is highly effective and capable of treating severe malocclusion so that you can have the healthy smile you’ve always wanted, while also avoiding the discomfort and oral health issues that malocclusion is known to cause.

2. Invisalign

While braces may be highly effective, they do come with their drawbacks. Having metal wires fastened to your mouth for a prolonged period of time can be somewhat uncomfortable, and it can cause you difficulty in maintaining good oral hygiene. 

You may also feel self-conscious about getting braces beyond your teenage years (when most people tend to have them.) Fortunately, there is a perfect solution for many people looking for an alternative to traditional braces: Invisalign

Invisalign is an orthodontic treatment that uses clear aligners that are discreet and removable. They eliminate much of the discomfort associated with braces while also allowing you some privacy as you address your malocclusion. 

Although it may not be a viable solution if your malocclusion is too severe, Invisalign is capable of improving a wide array of different orthodontic issues. If you’re looking for a discreet way to eliminate jaw pain and gain the straight smile you’ve always wanted, clear aligners may be the right solution for you.

Relieve your jaw pain with orthodontic treatment.

Suffering from jaw pain can affect your quality of life. The experienced professionals at Berrien Dental can determine the best way to relieve your malocclusion symptoms and achieve the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted. Schedule your appointment online today!

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