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November 30, 2022

Can Invisalign Help with TMJ Disorder?

woman putting on Invisalign tray

Invisalign is an internationally recognized name, and people primarily know it as a more subtle, comfortable, and flexible alternative to metal braces. While most get it to help with problems like crooked, crowded, and gapped teeth, it can also be a viable solution for those dealing with a TMJ disorder. How? Using the same method it does to create beautifully straight smiles, Invisalign is also able to fix the underlying cause of many patients’ chronic jaw and head pain.

The Cause of TMJ Disorders

A TMJ disorder is any problem that stems from dysfunction or injury to the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. This is the set of hinges that connects your lower jaw to your skull and allows it to move in all directions. It’s absolutely vital when it comes to eating and speaking.

If the bite (how the teeth are positioned when the mouth is closed) and the TMJ aren’t in proper alignment, this can cause the nearby jaw muscles and nerves to experience pain. This is because the body naturally wants the bite and jaw to be aligned, and when they aren’t, it tries to force them. This leads to unconscious teeth grinding and clenching, which then turns into an aching jaw, migraine, or even neck and shoulder pain.

How Invisalign Can Help

In the past, Invisalign was primarily used to make small, cosmetically focused adjustments to the teeth, but advancements over the years have enabled dentists to rely on it to solve bigger problems. Now, it’s often able to address the bite alignment issues that are at the root of a TMJ disorder.

It works by simply pushing the teeth into a position so that when the mouth is closed, the TMJ and associated muscles are at rest as opposed to active and straining. In addition to helping by itself, Invisalign can also be used in tandem with other TMJ disorder treatments like TENS therapy or equilibration (which involves building up or slightly reshaping a few teeth to alter the bite).

Is Invisalign Right For You?

Of course, like any treatment, Invisalign is not the go-to solution for everyone dealing with a TMJ disorder. Sometimes things as simple as taking OTC medication for a little while or reducing stress can help. Or, in the most severe cases, surgery is required. Thankfully, many effective solutions fall within that spectrum of care, and Invisalign is a relatively easy one to get and complete.

The important thing to keep in mind as a patient is that they need to visit a dentist who is familiar with TMJ disorders and has experience treating them for many people. That way, whether they ultimately get Invisalign or not, the end result will be lasting relief.

About the Author

Dr. James Olsen is an experienced dentist that has served the Ann Arbor community for over 30 years. In that time, he has been able to turn his small practice into a state-of-the-art facility that can offer the highest quality of dental care possible. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and studied how to treat TMJ-related pain at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. If you’re curious about Invisalign and how it could help your TMJ disorder, Dr. Olsen can be reached at his website or by phone at (734) 996-0200.

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