Top 10 Likely Reasons Your Jaw Is Misaligned

Posted on Wednesday, October 4th, 2023 | 2,826 views

Woman with pain in the jaw

Your jaw plays a crucial role in your oral health and affects your ability to eat, speak, think well, and sometimes even sleep properly.

Jaw misalignment issues can occur because of a variety of reasons, from dental issues such as missing teeth, to physical trauma and even poor posture.

In this article we’ll explore some of the common reasons the jaws can become misaligned and offer steps you can take to address the issues and suggest whether you should seek treatment from your health practitioner.

The Importance of Jaw Alignment

A properly aligned jaw helps distribute your bite pressure evenly and prevents excess wear and tear on your teeth. It also reduces the risk of developing dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease, and even jaw disorders like TMJ.

When your jaws are properly aligned, your overall health and hygiene is maintained:

  • It’s easier to brush and floss.
  • Reduces the risk of sleep apnea and breathing related issues.
  • Reduced risk of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
  • Prevent premature tooth wear and damage.
  • Improves the effectiveness of orthodontic treatments.
  • Reduced risk of developing chronic headaches, earaches, jaw and neck pain.
  • Digestion is maintained and/or improved.
  • Reduced risk of developing speech impediments.
  • Reduced mental health and stress issues.
  • Reduced risk of injury to your teeth, gums, and other oral regions.
  • Experience less fatigue and muscle strain felt around the jawbone.

As you can tell by the above list, there’s no question that correct jaw alignment is crucial to a person’s overall health. It can have a tremendous impact on a person’s well-being. from preventing dental problems to maintaining the health of the rest of the body.

Readers note: If you can definitely feel that your jaw is misaligned, start your journey to healing by consulting with your dental professional. They’ll determine the underlying cause of the misalignment and guide you to the appropriate treatment.

The Most Common Causes of Jaw Misalignment

Trauma or Injury

Trauma or injuries are the most common reasons why the jaw can become misaligned.

At some point in the past, you may have sustained some sort of injury that affected the alignment of your jaws, but you were unaware of it at the time or thought the injury wasn’t too severe. Even if the initial injury occurred years ago, it is possible for the problem to become exacerbated by other factors and eventually result in the onset of symptoms.

Some common causes of jaw injuries include car accidents, falls, and other injuries to the face where force was used. When the jaw experiences a certain amount of force it can cause the temporomandibular joint to become dislocated, leading to pain and discomfort.

Consulting with your dentist or healthcare practitioner can give you an accurate diagnosis of the problem.

Congenital Deformities

Congenital deformities occur at birth. Certain of these deformities can sometimes progress to misalignment of the jaw over time. They can be caused by a variety of unpreventable factors including genetics and prenatal development.

Some examples of congenital deformities that can affect jaw alignment include:

  • Cleft lip and palate.
  • Hemifacial microsomia.
  • Mandibular hypoplasia.
  • Maxillary hypoplasia.
  • Craniofacial microsomia.
  • Apert syndrome.
  • Treacher Collins syndrome.
  • Pierre Robin syndrome.
  • Amniotic band syndrome.
  • hemifacial microsomia.

Surgical Correction

Some treatments for congenital deformities may involve surgical correction or orthodontic intervention to help realign the jaw.

Treatments for congenital deformities depend on the severity of the condition and may require a multidisciplinary approach involving a team of medical professionals including a doctor and dental specialist.

Neurological Disorders

Believe it or not but neurological disorders can also contribute to a jaw alignment problems.

For example, Parkinson’s disease can lead to muscle rigidity and tremors that can affect the muscles and the joints of the jaw.

Strokes affect the muscles and nerves in the whole body including the ones responsible for controlling jaw movement. Additionally, conditions like cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and Bell’s palsy can affect the jaw.

Readers note: The effects of neurological disorders on the jaw vary widely, from mild discomfort to a significant impairment of the jaw function.

Oftentimes, these symptoms can be managed with specialised treatment and therapy through the help of doctor or healthcare practitioner.

Tumors in the Jaw or Surrounding Tissue

If there are tumors present in and around the jaw area, this can cause a misalignment issue by putting undue pressure on the jawbone, or by affecting the surrounding muscles and nerves.

Both benign and malignant tumors will affect various tissues surrounding the jawbone including the bone, cartilage, and soft tissue. These include odontogenic tumors, osteomas, and giant cell tumors.

The symptoms of jaw tumors can vary depending on the location, size, and type of tumor. Some common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Numbness
  • Jaw pain
  • Swelling
  • Jaw tingles
  • Pain opening the mouth
  • Jaw alignment changes

Treatment

Treatment for jaw tumors depend on the type of tumor and the stage it’s in. In some cases, surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may be necessary treatments to remove it.

In some cases medications can also help shrink the tumor and manage the symptoms, but regular monitoring by your health practitioner and follow-up appointments are an important part of managing and hopefully maintaining optimal jaw alignment.

Single Tooth Extraction

A single tooth extraction can also cause a misalignment of the jaw. A single missing tooth can cause the surrounding teeth to slowly begin shifting and eventually lead to bite problems and misalignment issues.

If left untreated, jaw pain, facial discomfort, and a change facial structure can be the result.

Treatment

If this is the case for you, it is important to consult with your dentist or orthodontist to determine the appropriate treatment options for your specific situation. In some cases, dental implants may be necessary to replace the missing tooth and prevent further misalignment.

If your dentist replaces a missing tooth, usually after the extraction they will recommend dental implant services. Implants help restore proper jaw alignment quite effectively and they reduce strain on the joints and muscles by re-establishing a healthy bite when the missing tooth is replaced. 

If you have a missing tooth or are missing several of them, speak with your dentist to determine if implants are the right solution for your specific jaw issues.

Although there are also other options depending on the circumstance including bridges or dentures, the best course of action depends on a variety of factors including your overall oral health, budget, and personal preferences.

Bruxism and Teeth Grinding

If you experience bruxism (grinding of the teeth), there’s a high chance you’ll develop some sort of jaw issues including jaw misalignment. Grinding causes the teeth to become unevenly worn down and has a strong tendency to lead to jaw misalignment.

There are several factors that contribute to bruxism and each of them have to be considered in order to stop the grinding and have your jaw corrected. Some symptoms include:

  • Stress.
  • Anxiety.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Malocclusion (improper alignment of teeth).
  • Side effects of certain medications.
  • Neurological conditions (such as Parkinson’s disease).
  • Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption.
  • Nicotine consumption.
  • Acid reflux or GERD.
  • Nutritional deficiencies (such as magnesium or calcium).
  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Crooked or missing teeth.

Often an occlusal splint (nightguard) will be recommended to help protect not only your teeth but also to support your jaw muscles and TMJs.

If left untreated, bruxism can lead to severe dental problems such as tooth sensitivity/decay, gum disease and recession, and further tooth loss. Consult with your dentist to determine what is causing the grinding and possibly begin the correction process.

Malocclusion or Bite Problems

Malocclusion is a medical term for the condition where the teeth do not fit together properly and can cause the jaw to become misaligned and lead to pain, discomfort and difficulty biting and chewing.

Malocclusion can be caused by a range of factors including genetics, missing teeth, or previous dental work. Other factors that can cause the condition include:

  • Thumb-sucking or pacifier use during childhood.
  • Prolonged bottle feeding or sippy cup usage.
  • Jaw tumors or cysts.
  • Tongue thrusting or mouth breathing.
  • Trauma or injury to the jaw.
  • Abnormal jaw growth or development.
  • Aging and wear and tear on the teeth and jawbone.

Correcting the bite through an orthodontic treatment or through some form of cosmetic dental services will help realign the jaw and improve the patient’s overall oral health and well-being.

Arthritis or Joint Problems

Arthritis or other joint problems can actually lead to misalignment of the jaw. When joints become inflamed it can result in pain within the joints including the jaw joints. It can also cause other symptoms around the jawbone including:

  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth.
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint.
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together.
  • Headaches.
  • Earaches.
  • Facial pain.

Arthritis can also cause the jaw to become locked in a certain position making it difficult and painful to open and close the mouth. Treatment options for these conditions can vary depending on the severity and underlying cause, but may include medication, physical therapy, or surgery. 

If you feel that arthritis issues are causing you jaw problems, speak with your dentist about the arthritic symptoms you’re experiencing to determine the appropriate treatment plan.

Poor Posture

Contrary to what most people would think, poor posture can cause issues with alignment of the jaw. Poor posture puts unnecessary strain on the muscles, the joints in the neck and the upper back and they all create tension in the jaw muscles.

Poor posture can even cause nerve compression or nerve damage which manifests in facial numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the face and neck. It can also cause a forward head posture to be adopted which can eventually lead to changes in the position of the jawbone, which tends to further lead to bite problems and jaw alignment issues.

Addressing your posture can involve physical therapy, chiropractic care and other forms of treatment that help improve posture and relieve tension. In some cases, orthodontic treatments will correct the bite and bring the jawbone back to it’s proper position.

Here’s What to Do if Your Jaw Feels Misaligned

Because jaw misalignment can lead to a range of issues that affect your ability to live a happy life, and causes chronic pain and discomfort, understanding why you have these issues is an important first step to solving the problem.

Your dentist and healthcare professional are only few clicks away and all you have to do is make an appointment and give them the details. Don’t hesitate to speak to them if you’re experiencing any symptoms because a pain-free life is just around the corner!

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