The Role of Adult Orthodontics in Treating TMJ Disorders

April 23, 2023

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are a relatively common condition affecting millions worldwide. It can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, from jaw pain to headaches and even problems with speaking. While many treatment options are available, adult orthodontics has become a popular choice for some patients.

But what is adult orthodontics, and how can it help treat TMJ disorders? This blog will explore the role of adult orthodontics in addressing TMJ disorders.

What is adult orthodontics?

Adult orthodontics uses braces, aligners, and other orthodontic appliances to straighten teeth and address issues with a patient's bite. Unlike traditional orthodontics, which is commonly associated with teenagers, adult orthodontics is specifically designed to meet the unique treatment needs of adults.

Adult orthodontic treatments can address bite-related issues, including overbites, underbites, and crossbites. In addition, these treatments can help align the teeth properly, improving chewing, speaking, and overall oral health.

How can adult orthodontics help with TMJ disorders?

Because TMJ disorders often arise from issues with a patient's bite, adult orthodontic treatments can effectively alleviate the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders. By correcting misaligned teeth and improving the bite, adult orthodontics can reduce the pressure on the TMJ and relieve pain, stiffness, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

In addition, adult orthodontics can also help to address other issues that may be contributing to TMJ disorders, such as teeth grinding or clenching. By correcting these behaviors, adult orthodontics can help to reduce the strain on the TMJ and allow it to function correctly.

Overall, adult orthodontics is an effective treatment option for many patients with TMJ disorders. Suppose you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder. In that case, it is essential to consult an orthodontic specialist who can evaluate your unique situation and recommend the best treatment for your needs. With the help of adult orthodontics, you can achieve a properly aligned bite and enjoy improved oral health, function, and comfort.

The causes of TMJ

First, it's essential to understand that misaligned teeth and bite patterns often cause TMJ disorders. This misalignment can create stress on the jaw joint, leading to pain and discomfort. Adult orthodontics involves using braces, aligners, or other orthodontic devices to correct these misalignments.

By properly aligning the teeth and bite, adult orthodontics can help improve the function of the jaw joint and alleviate the symptoms of TMJ disorders. Additionally, orthodontic treatment can improve oral health, making cleaning teeth easier and preventing decay and gum disease.

TMJ can also be caused by injury, arthritis, or teeth grinding. In these cases, adult orthodontics may not be the only solution. Your dentist or orthodontist will work with you to determine the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder before recommending a treatment plan.

Sometimes, a more comprehensive approach may be needed than just adult orthodontics. This includes physical therapy, medication, or surgery. However, adult orthodontics can be an effective solution for many patients with mild to moderate TMJ symptoms.

Types of adult orthodontics

Several types of adult orthodontics may be used to treat TMJ disorders, depending on the patient's specific needs. These include:

Traditional braces

Braces are the most common type of orthodontic treatment and involve attaching wires and brackets to the teeth to shift them into the desired position gradually. They can take several months to a few years to achieve the proper alignment, but they can effectively address bite issues and improve TMJ symptoms.

Clear aligners

Clear aligners like Invisalign are a popular alternative to braces that use a series of custom-made plastic trays to align the teeth gradually. They are almost invisible and can be removed when eating or brushing their teeth. Not everyone can wear one to correct their bite issues, but they can be an effective option for mild to moderate cases of TMJ disorder.

Lingual braces

Lingual braces work similarly to traditional braces but are attached to the back of the teeth instead of the front, making them nearly invisible. As a result, they can help to improve the alignment of the teeth and bite while maintaining a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Self-ligating braces

Self-ligating braces use a slide mechanism instead of elastics to hold the archwire in place, reducing the friction and pressure on the teeth. TMJ is less commonly associated with self-ligating braces than traditional ones, but it can still be an effective treatment option for some patients.

Expansion devices

Expansion devices are another type of adult orthodontics that can treat TMJ disorders by widening the upper jaw. They are often used in cases where the lower jaw is too far back, resulting in an overbite or an underbite. In addition, they can widen the upper palate and create more space in the mouth, relieving pressure on the jaw joint.


Adult orthodontics can be crucial in treating TMJ disorders caused by misaligned teeth and bite patterns. By correcting these issues, orthodontic treatment can improve jaw function and alleviate symptoms such as pain and discomfort. 

However, it's essential to work with a dentist or orthodontist to determine the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder and develop a comprehensive treatment plan that may include physical therapy, medication, or surgery. Nonetheless, orthodontic treatment is a minimally invasive and effective option for many patients with mild to moderate TMJ symptoms. 

If you're experiencing jaw pain or discomfort, talk to your dentist or orthodontist about whether adult orthodontics could suit you. If you’re in the Sandy Springs area, schedule your smile assessment with Quest Orthodontics today.


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