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Does Orthodontic Treatment cause TMD?

Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ as it is called is the joint present on both sides of the temporal lobe of the skull connecting the jaw bones. It functions like a hinge making actions like chewing, biting, speaking, yawning, etc, possible. If a patient develops TMD or Temporomandibular Disorder it means the above-quoted functions of the jaw becomes difficult to perform because they feel the pain in the jaw when they do these functions. Does orthodontic treatment or wearing dental braces cause TMJ pain or TMD?

What are the general factors believed to cause TMD?

Largely, the actual reasons for TMD are unknown or rather medical researchers are unable to pinpoint a single cause. They can be any one or more of the following factors.

  • Teeth grinding habit is a possible cause. This action causes excess pressure on the jaw joints and may eventually lead to TMD.
  • Certain bad bites sometimes may cause TMJ problems though this is not conclusive.
  • Arthritis can affect all the bones and joints in the human body and TMJ are not exceptions.
  • Stress is also said to be a factor. Excessive stress has the potential to cause stiffness of the muscles in the face and jaw.
  • Any damage or injury to the jaw due to violent trauma. When the injury damages the jaw muscles, bones or the joint per se, TMD can occur.

Can Orthodontic Treatment or Dental Braces cause TMD?

This question has been debated in the scientific circle for long and none of the researches point to the notion that orthodontic treatment can cause TMJ problems. Some crossbite and the open bite has the potential to cause TMJ problems. Again not everyone with these problems has been found to have TMJ issues.

On the contrary, some patients who have developed TMJ issues and have bite problems have reported that their orthodontic treatment aimed at correcting their bite problems have in fact reduced the pain associated with TMJ issues. Hence it is safe to assume that orthodontic treatment or dental braces do not cause TMJ problems.

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