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Can Clear Retainers Cause TMJ Pain?

Brunette woman wearing a yellow sweater cringes and touches her jaw due to TMJ pain

If you experience jaw pain from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, you know how uncomfortable it can be. There are many possible reasons a person might develop pain due to TMJ disorder, also known as TMD. If you’re experiencing this pain and also straightening your teeth, you may be wonder whether your clear retainers have caused your TMD or worsened jaw pain you had before. Read on to learn more about this common jaw affliction.

What Is TMJ Pain?

TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is pain and discomfort in the jaw due to dysfunction of the hinge joint (the temporomandibular joint) that connects the lower jaw to the rest of the skull. Although virtually anyone can experience some form of TMD, it is most common in women ages 20-40, people with arthritis, or those who have had a face or head injury. Signs of dysfunction of the TMJ include:

  • Radiating pain in the jaw, face, and neck
  • Crackling, popping, and clicking of the jaw
  • Difficulty opening the mouth to eat, yawn, and speak
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Muscle spasms
  • Ear aches
  • Headaches

What Causes TMJ Pain?

A number of factors can contribute to the development of temporomandibular joint disorder.

  • Stress and muscle tension
  • Teeth grinding and clenching during sleep
  • An injury that affects the jaw
  • Misaligned teeth and malocclusion

Can Clear Retainers Cause TMJ Pain?

If you experience jaw pain while using mail-order clear retainers without proper oversight of a dental professional, the retainers could be harming your oral health! They could either be ill-fitting or moving your teeth inappropriately, leading to bite misalignment. We do not recommend straightening your teeth using this method.

In contrast, with the guidance of a dental professional, well-fitted orthodontic devices like clear retainers and braces may help improve your TMD symptoms by aligning your smile. After all, a straighter smile makes for healthier, more beautiful teeth! Here at Leesburg Family Dental, we offer ClearCorrect™ aligner therapy, Powerprox Six Month Braces®, Six Months Smiles®, traditional metal braces, and ceramic braces. Get in touch with our team to determine whether you’d benefit from a more aligned smile and bite!

What Treatment Is Available for TMD?

Depending on the severity of your TMJ dysfunction, there are several courses of treatment:

  • Occasionally taking over-the-counter pain medication; be sure to follow the label’s instructions
  • You can also apply an ice pack or heat compress to your cheek to help relieve symptoms
  • Stress management, stretching exercises, meditation, and yoga may also help ease pain
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • If you clench your jaw at night, ask us about getting a nightguard to protect your teeth

Consult with Our Expert Team!

If you have TMJ pain, get in touch with our Leesburg dental office. We’ll recommend a course of treatment that will help ease your jaw pain and discomfort. Contact us today.

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