When we treat crooked teeth with braces, we hope that the results will be a lifetime of beautiful smiles, and the health benefits of straighter teeth, including easier oral hygiene, less food stuck in teeth, and a lower risk of receding gums.
While there are certainly some causes of relapse after braces that need to be considered carefully, such as failing to wear your retainer, researchers have proposed that we should consider the role that TMJ may play in braces relapse and take it as a warning sign that other symptoms, such as jaw pain and headaches may follow.
How TMJ Causes Relapse
Whether using Invisalign or traditional braces, orthodontics works by subjecting your teeth to constant pressure that encourages your body to remodel bone around the teeth, allowing them to move. But braces aren’t the only force in your mouth that can move your teeth. Your teeth are daily subjected to forces from your bite, which can cause them to drift out of alignment. After all, how do you think they got crooked in the first place?
Many people with TMJ have a retruded mandible–this means your lower jaw is further back than it should be. This can make it hard for your teeth to come together evenly, and when some teeth are subjected to more teeth than others, they can wear, chip, break, or drift.
Uneven or irregular force can also be due to a displaced disk. If the cushioning disk in your jaw slips into place when opening your jaw, it has to slip back out at some point. This can cause irregular movement in your jaw, including while chewing, which subjects your teeth to sideways pressure that can also encourage them to drift out of place.
It’s important to remember that orthodontics should be about more than just getting straight teeth. Instead, your teeth need to be moved into a functional configuration that not only looks good, but works properly, too.
That’s why we practice neuromuscular orthodontics, an orthodontic approach that is designed to harmonize the alignment of your teeth with the function of your jaw joint and jaw muscles. Whether you have previously had braces or if you’re considering orthodontics for the first time, neuromuscular orthodontics may be able to help you get optimal results.