Can Invisalign Help My TMJ Problems?

I went to an orthodontist on my own and asked him if Invisalign would help my sore jaw, since I read that it could. He said it would and signed me up for his program. About a week later, I received a call from my regular dentist. He said he wanted to do an exam before I start Invisalign and that he’s afraid it will make me worse. I feel like I’m stuck in the middle of a fight between the two dentists. Is my dentist just ticked that I went to someone else for treatment without talking to him first or is he right that having ortho could make my jaw problems worse? Also, I’m kind of curious… is this kind of dueling between dentists normal? It seems weird that my regular office would call me out of the blue.



Dear Christian,

It sounds more like your regular dentist is looking out for you. It’s not exactly normal for one dentist to openly question another dentist’s diagnosis, especially when he isn’t asked for an opinion. However, if he’s established, he has probably met patients who have seen your orthodontist before and he’s familiar with his techniques as well as outcomes. In smaller dental communities, dentists become highly aware of the reputations of other practitioners, particularly when it’s a specialty that the dentist refers to often. Odds are that your dentist knows something about the habits of the orthodontist you chose or about your particular TMJ problems, and is behaving in a professional manner.

There are many things that can lead to TMD, or problems with the TMJ. Sometimes, pain and inflammation are caused because a person bites incorrectly. Over time, ortho can correct the bite and help TMJ pain. Other times, issues are caused by continual biting, clenching, or grinding. This can happen at night or during the day. If this is the case, the aligners may provide some cushioning to ease the stress, much like a night guard would. However, if your TMJ problems are caused by something else, like an injury, wearing Invisalign can actually make it worse. If this is the case, you’ll need to treat your TMJ problems first.

No harm can come from letting your dentist do an exam. If he concurs with the orthodontist’s findings, great. If not, you might want to visit a TMJ specialist for an expert diagnosis, just so you can rest easier.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.

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