Many people don’t realize that they have a misaligned jaw because the symptoms can be subtle. A misaligned jaw can cause a number of problems, including difficulty chewing and speaking. It can also lead to headaches and neck pain. At Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX, we specialize in correcting jaw alignment problems. We offer a variety of treatments, including braces and surgical orthodontics to help you achieve a healthy, aligned smile.
How Do You Know if Your Jaw Is Misaligned?
1. Pain in Your Jaw, Neck, or Head
When the jaws are not properly aligned, it can place undue stress on the muscles and joints in the jaw, neck, or head area, leading to pain. This type of pain is usually persistent, meaning that it is present all the time or comes and goes on a regular basis. The intensity of the pain can vary from mild to severe. Many people deal with this type of pain by taking over-the-counter pain medications or using ice or heat to reduce inflammation.
However, this type of pain does not respond to these self-care measures. A misaligned jaw is a serious condition that can cause long-term damage if left untreated. Scheduling an appointment with us is the best way to ensure that you receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
2. Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth at Night
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common condition that affects many people. It can occur during the day or at night, and it can cause a number of problems. For example, teeth grinding can damage the teeth and lead to jaw pain. It can also cause headaches and earaches. People who grind their teeth often do not realize it, as it can happen during sleep.
There are a few things that can increase the risk of bruxism, such as stress, caffeine, and alcohol. If you think you may be grinding your teeth, it is important to see us so we can rule out any other causes and provide treatment. Treatment for bruxism includes wearing a mouthguard at night to protect the teeth.
3. Difficulty Chewing or Swallowing
When the teeth’s biting surfaces do not fit together as they should, it is called a malocclusion or a bad bite. The misalignment can cause difficulty in chewing or swallowing. People with malocclusion may also feel pain in their jaws or around their ears when they chew.
The pain may be due to the muscles having to work harder to align the jaws correctly, or it may be due to TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). In some cases, people with malocclusion may also suffer from headaches.
4. Your Jaw Popping or Snapping When You Move It
The popping or snapping sound is caused by the bones of the lower jaw (the mandible) rubbing against the bones of the upper jaw (the maxilla). This can happen when the joint that connects the mandible to the temporal bone, the TMJ, is not in alignment.
The TMJ is a ball-and-socket joint, and when it is not aligned properly, the ball can rub against the socket, causing a popping or snapping sound. The popping or snapping may also be accompanied by pain or discomfort.
5. Noticeable Misalignment of Your Teeth
When your jaw is misaligned, it can cause your teeth to become misaligned as well. This can happen in a number of ways. For example, if your top jaw is too far forward, it can cause your bottom teeth to appear to be pushed back. Alternatively, if your bottom jaw is too far forward, it can cause your top teeth to protrude. In either case, the misalignment of your teeth can be quite noticeable.
In addition to affecting the appearance of your smile, misaligned teeth can also affect the way you speak and chew. If left untreated, misaligned teeth can lead to more serious problems such as TMJ disorders and tooth decay.
Early Intervention for Misaligned Jaw
When it comes to orthodontic treatment, the earlier the better. Early intervention can prevent jaw misalignment and save you time and money in the long run. Here are several benefits of early orthodontic intervention:
1. Prevent or Minimize the Need for Jaw Surgery
Jaw surgery is a corrective procedure that is performed to align the upper and lower jaws. This type of surgery is often necessary when the teeth do not line up correctly. The surgery is usually recommended when traditional orthodontic treatments have failed to improve the alignment of the jaws.
While surgery is considered to be safe and effective, it is a major surgical procedure that can be quite invasive. As such, it is always preferable to seek early intervention in order to prevent or minimize the need for jaw surgery. Early intervention may include the use of dental appliances or orthodontic braces to slowly guide the jaws into alignment.
2. Improve Your Child’s Self-Esteem and Confidence
A misaligned jaw can have a significant impact on a child’s self-esteem and confidence. They may feel self-conscious about their appearance, which can lead to them avoiding social situations and withdrawing from activities that they enjoy.
Early intervention with orthodontic treatment can help to prevent this by ensuring that your child’s teeth are properly aligned. This will help them to feel good about their appearance and boost their self-confidence. As a result, they will be more likely to participate in activities, make friends, and grow up happy.
3. Reduce the Risk of Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Several causes of tooth decay can be traced back to jaw misalignment, including improper cleaning due to overcrowding, difficulty flossing, and abnormal wear and tear on teeth. By seeking early treatment, you can prevent these problems from developing or worsening.
In some cases, simple lifestyle changes such as better oral hygiene or a change in diet may be enough to correct the problem. In other cases, more invasive treatments such as braces or surgery may be necessary. However, no matter what type of treatment is required, early intervention is essential for preventing serious dental problems as your child gets older.
4. Improve Your Child’s Ability To Chew and Speak Properly
We often see patients who come in with problems related to their child’s jaw alignment. In many cases, these problems can be traced back to early childhood. When a child’s teeth begin to come in, they may not be properly aligned. This can lead to misalignment of the jaw, which can cause a host of problems including difficulty chewing and speaking properly.
5. To Minimize the Risk of Trauma to Protruding Teeth
According to the American Association of Orthodontics, more than half of all children will need some form of orthodontic treatment. The risk of trauma to protruding teeth is highest in children aged 5 to 7 years old, when they are most active and have not mastered all the skills needed to protect their teeth.
For example, a child who falls while playing and hits their front teeth on the ground is more likely to suffer fractures if their teeth are protruding. Early intervention can prevent such injuries by ensuring that the jaws are properly aligned and the teeth are not at risk of being knocked out.
Can Your Jaw Shift As You Get Older?
As you age, it is not uncommon for your jaw to shift. This is because the bone and tissue that make up your jaw begin to break down and weaken over time. Additionally, the ligaments and muscles that support your jaw can also loosen, allowing your jaw to move out of alignment. While a shifting jaw may not cause any pain or problems at first, it can eventually lead to difficulties with eating and speaking.
Does a Misaligned Jaw Fix Itself?
In some cases, a jaw will correct itself over time. However, if the misalignment is severe, surgery may be required to realign the jaws. In most cases, surgery is successful in correcting the misalignment and restoring normal function. However, you should always consult with a dentist to determine the best course of treatment for your particular situation.
Get the Perfect Smile You Always Wanted!
There are several signs that may indicate that your jaw is misaligned. You may have difficulty chewing or experience pain in your jaw, teeth, or ears. You may also notice that your teeth do not line up properly when you bite down. If you have any of these symptoms, we encourage you to contact us at Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX, for a consultation. We will conduct a thorough examination and develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs.