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Please: Before you get braces, research TMJ!



Former Member
If you are planning to get braces or have a child that needs braces please research TMJ first. You may not even know you have a problem until after the pressure from the braces activates the problem. Make sure that your orthodontist knows about TMJ and examines you or your child for possible TMJ problems.

I just went through hell for the last 3 months because I had no clue. Even once the problems started (in the form of massive headaches and migraines) I still couldn't find help because when tried to search for info on "headaches and braces" I got nothing. It took two months of headaches, a month of which I couldn't work or do much of anything before my chiropractor finally hit on the idea that it might be in my TMJ. Once he started addressing that I could get some short term relief from my visits to him. However, Dr. David Lehman, my orthodontist just would not listen to me. Every time I saw him after he put the spacers in I told him how bad of pain I was in, that my doctor had put me in physical therapy because of the headaches I'd been having, that I was seeing a chiro every day and that I was taking migraine meds daily (if not 3 times a day). He wouldn't listen and kept trying to tell me that it was normal because my teeth were moving. At first I believed him... the doctors always right right? But when it got much worse in the second month, I couldn't buy it anymore. When I went for my second adjustment I told him my chiro felt like it was a TMJ issue and I told him how much worse the pain was and he responded well if it's that bad then all we can do is take them off. Let's give it a few weeks tho.

We gave it a few weeks and I developed and ulcer from all the pain meds, spent one day in urgent care and another in the ER. During that three weeks I also did some serious research on TMJ and found a specialist that would see me. He said he could treat me with or without the braces, we'd just have to de-activate the braces while I was in treatment (so the teeth weren't moving) and it would delay my time in braces by probably 9 months!

I just want to get the word out there. Before you get braces research TMJ and talk to your orthodontist about TMJ and ask them their opinions. If they blow it off, find another ortho. If you already have braces and the pain is much worse than you feel it should be, research TMJ and talk to your ortho. IF he won't listen, find a specialist that will and get checked out.

Braces are not a huge pain for most people, so if they are for you, there's a reason. It's not supposed to be that way.
I'm sorry to hear that you had to go through that.

TMJ issues were actually what got me to finally go back to a dentist after a 20+ year absence. I had gotten to the point where I couldn't chew and was having headaches, etc.

Dentists and orthodontists have been known to blame TMJ issues on a problem with the bite and recommend braces as a remedy. Luckily, I did a lot of research (especially after I found out how much braces were going to cost me out of pocket) and found out that braces are not recommended as a therapy for TMJ dysfunction.

I've been seeing a TMJ specialist for a few months now. When I told him that braces had been recommended, he just about fell on the floor. He told me that, under no circumstances, was I to even consider getting braces until my TMJ problems cleared up.

He was the one who pointed out that it's not necessarily that the dentists and orthodontists who recommend braces are trying to pull a fast one. Many of them are working with dated information. Few of them have a good understanding of TMJ dysfunction.

The good news is, working with a combination of physical therapy, a good custom bite plate, some stretching exercises for my jaw and neck, and regular visits to my TMJ specialist, I'm beginning to have much less pain.

So, take heart. There is light at the end of the tunnel and there is help for TMJ dysfunction. However, thanks for pointing out the issues with braces and TMJ. It's definitely a good idea, especially if you have a family history of TMJ dysfunction, to check with a specialist before going ahead to get braces.

As you point out, for most people it's not an issue but it's better to be safe than sorry.

I hope that you're able to find some relief soon.