Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)


The jaw joints, called temporomandibular joints by the dentists and physicians, are hinges that connect the jaw to the temporal bones in the skull. Those joints are very complex and allow the lower jaw to move in different directions, so we can speak, bite, chew, swallow, yawn, etc. When one or both jaw joints or the muscles that control them cannot function properly, it results in temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

The signs of TMD typically include:

– Pain in one or both joints, pain in the temple area
– Clicking or popping of the jaw when opening the mouth, locked jaw
– Earache, hearing problems, tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and dizziness
– Migraines or headaches
– Sore chewing muscles

The most common causes for this condition include injury or trauma, bad bite, teeth grinding, arthritis, poor posture and excessive chewing.



From all the potential causes of TMD, a bad bite is one of the most frequent. When upper and lower teeth do not fit properly together, it can lead to shifting of the lower jaw as an attempt to compensate for the interferences. It can also trigger the brain to react with clenching or grinding of the teeth. Both situations cause stress in the muscles and ligaments that control the jaw joint, causing a chronic state of tension.

The tension can spread to joint itself, compressing nerves and arteries, resulting in dysfunction and pain, which can be spontaneous or triggered by jaw movements. In many cases, the pain reflects in other areas as well, such as ears, head, neck and spine. Because the jaw joint never relaxes, the conditions affecting it usually become chronic.



Teeth arrangement defines the position of the jaws in the joint; hence, poorly aligned teeth can lead the jaws into an unnatural position that can result in muscle fatigue and pain, playing a central role in TMD. Ideally, teeth should be aligned in such way that all teeth get in contact simultaneously, distributing bite forces equally, with jaw joints adequately seated in their sockets.

Correction of a bad bite allows the chewing system to become stable. The orthodontist can recommend use of a nightguard or occlusal splint to provide an initial bite stability.

The ultimate solution, which addresses the root of the problem, is the correction of the bite through orthodontic treatment. In this way, the bite is balanced and the smile can get a makeover at the same time.



The best way to correct a bad bite is through clear aligner therapy. The use of plastic devices provides the necessary forces to gently move teeth and jaws into their ideal positions. These appliances can be removed, making cleaning, eating and socializing more comfortable, especially for adults.

Before treatment, the orthodontist will scan your teeth digitally and, with the help of a specific computer program, the results can be visualized in the computer. The aligners are 3D printed according to the treatment plan.

If you experience pain and discomfort in your jaw joint, talk to your orthodontist and get your bite checked.