TMJ Problems from When I was a Kid

I was just told that I have TMJ disorder at my last dental appointment. I suppose this makes sense because I have had excruciating pain and headaches in the morning. The pain is all over my face, from my ears to my jaw and it sucks! Apparently the TMJ was caused from the four bicuspids I had removed when I was a kid. At the time, the teeth were removed so that I could wear braces.

During the exam I was told that even after wearing braces for years that my teeth are not properly aligned. Also, my jaw is out of alignment. Do you know if others that had these particular teeth removed have recovered properly from TMJ? I have to assume I’m not the only one out there that had these teeth out in order to get braces as a kid.

– Jacob in Nevada


Well, from what you have described it does sound like TMJ disorder and the bicuspid extraction very well could be the culprit. The good news is that there are thousands of patients that have successfully reversed the their TMJ problems with the proper treatment. That said, you need to make sure you are seeing a TMJ specialist that has the proper training and credentials. Not just any Joe-Schmoe dentist can fix TMJ because it requires extensive knowledge and training beyond dental school to treat it well.

What has likely happened in your particular case is that when the bicuspids were removed, the upper teeth pulled back during the orthodontic treatment. This likely also pushed your lower jaw back as well, so now your bite is out of alignment. When the mandible (or lower jaw) is moved out of position the condyles or the TMJ joints are negatively impacted. That is why you are experiencing so much pain. The joint itself, as well as the muscles surrounding out are all out of whack.

TMJ dentists have different philosophies when treating the disorder. So it is probably worth it to seek a couple opinions and TMJ treatment options. A night guard is a popular treatment recommendation to reposition the bite back into proper alignment. But in dentistry, like other areas of medicine, there is more than one way to solve a particular dental problem. There are two main schools of thought. One is called the occlusionists. This group is focused on changing the bite to correct grinding or other misalignment issues. The other school of thought is to reposition the lower jaw and move it forward into a more favorable position. This will take away the stress on the condyles. This way of thinking is a considered to be non-occlusionist.

Hopefully this provided you some ideas in who to talk to and how to go about solving your TMJ. Best of luck!

This post is sponsored by Phoenix dentist Arthur Chal Esthetic and Reconstructive Dentistry.

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