Pain in your jaw joint can be a serious issue. It can often be caused by grinding or clenching your teeth. It can be made worse by chewing gum or biting your nails. But can this pain be caused by the position of your teeth and how they fit together? Will treatment with braces help to get rid of jaw pain?

Have you heard of the ‘National Elf Service’? That’s ‘Elf Service’, not health. You probably won’t have but they are a brilliant bunch. They help health professionals like doctors and dentists by looking at all of the research that is out there on certain topics and summarising it so that doctors and dentists can provide the best care based on current evidence.

In July 2017, the National Elf Service looked into problems that people get with their jaw joints. It’s an important topic because it affects so many people.

I know about jaw pain from personal experience. My pain is caused by clenching at night. I often wake up with a stiff jaw and I struggle to fully open my mouth. I seem to clench my teeth particularly when I am stressed. So I know what patients are going through when they visit me, complaining of pain in their jaw. It’s horrid.

If you suffer from teeth grinding and jaw issues, click here to get further advice. Be warned that it can be very tricky to treat jaw pain. Sometimes you just have to find ways of managing it rather than completely curing it.

Anyway, let’s get back on topic. Do you want to know the posh name for your jaw joint? I know you don’t but indulge me.

The posh name for your jaw joint is your temporomandibular joint. This is where the part of your skull called your temple meets your lower jaw (known as the mandible). If you can’t spell (like me) you might prefer to call this joint the ‘TMJ’. When something goes wrong with this joint, we call it temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD).

The Dental Elf Service looks through a load of research about jaw pain and jaw problems. They found no evidence that the position of someone’s teeth would cause them TMJD.

If your teeth are crowded, wonky or overlap each other, we used to think that this would cause long term problems with your jaw. It seems that this is not the case.

Will braces solve the problems with my jaw joint?

No. Unfortunately not.

The clever people at the Cochrane Group looked into this. They found that treatment with braces did not help painful jaws. Straight teeth do not protect you against problems that could affect your jaw joint.

There are lots of reasons that you may want to have treatment with braces. But fixing your jaw pain is not one of them. If you would like to know the benefits of treatment with braces, read this article.

I should mention that the Cochrane Group have recently removed this review from their website and they’re working on a new report.

The National Elf Service said that there wasn’t much good quality evidence about how your bite affects your jaw joint. However, there is no evidence to say that the way your teeth meet is the cause of any problems with your jaw.

For more information about jaw joint pain, read our article.

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