Braces and TMJ…umm… TMD

Today I get my braces off after 2 years of wearing them. I got them under the false pretense it would help alleviate the pain caused by my TMJ, which after just looking up turns out is actually TMD, but everyone and their brother (including doctors) seems to call it TMJ so that’s what I shall call it. I actually got a pamphlet from and Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor that said that braces could help. I told my dentist that I had TMJ, and the fact is I have crooked teeth so when they suggested I get braces and then told me a good place to go, I figured it was all going to be groovy. However, the problem is that braces of course put some stress on your jaw, and wearing bands, which is going to be required most of the time, is just going to plain suck. I thought I had told my orthodontist I had TMJ, and I know for sure I had told one of the dental assistants there that I had, and yet no one told me of the problems that could come along with choosing to get braces. In fact, once I reminded my orthodontist I had TMJ and so couldn’t wearing bands like they wanted me too, she was shocked I thought braces would help my issues.

What really bothered me was to learn later through my sister that there are actual orthodontist that specialize in treating people with TMJ, and that are equipped with working around the issues normal orthodontal treatment can cause. In fact, my own orthodontist mentioned having to possibly send me to one after having dealt with them for about a year. However, I think in some ways it just depends on which doctor you’re dealing with. I had 3 different doctors that I dealt with in the same practice. One of them, upon hearing that I couldn’t do bands, told me there was no way to straighten my teeth then. On my next visit a different doctor easily worked around the issue. Later on the previous doctor once more tried to act like they were going to have to cut my treatment short, which was once more followed by the third doctor easily working around my issues. Yes it took longer, and wasn’t as easy to do, but it is possible, and I’m so thankful the other 2 doctors could figure that out.

My teeth are now perfectly straight with no help from bands.  Altogether, if you have TMJ make sure they know before going in, and do your research to see if there is an orthodontist in your area who specializes in TMJ. But while it has been a pain, and many a time I regretted getting the braces, in the end it did help make my jaw feel a teeny tiny bit better… and well I do have lovely straight teeth to flash people when I smile real big, so that’s nice too.

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