A temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can be a mysterious condition. Each person may have their own symptoms that range from mild to severe, and symptoms may even come and go. In addition, the causes of TMD can vary widely from person to person.
An uneven, crooked, or asymmetrical jaw can be much more than an appearance issue. In fact, a jaw that’s not properly aligned can have two distinct connections to TMD: it can cause TMD, or it can be a result of long-term TMD symptoms.
Uneven Jaw Can Lead to TMJ Problems
While TMD can be caused by many things, from stress to illnesses to injury, one often overlooked cause of TMD is an uneven jaw. Some people are simply born with bones that are slightly asymmetrical. Others may acquire an uneven jaw over time, often resulting from improper sleep position, spinal imbalance, chewing on one side, uneven tooth wear, habits like biting a pen or fingernails, and more.
The jaw bones are not the only factor in an uneven jaw, however. The jaw joint, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ), involves muscles and tendons that must work and fit together correctly for proper jaw function. If muscles on one side are overdeveloped, this can force the bones into an unnatural and asymmetrical position.
Causes of an uneven jaw may vary, but many people find that TMD is the result. The jaw’s asymmetrical position can lead to swelling and inflammation on one side, which gets worse when the jaw is used for chewing, talking, or when sleeping on your side. Your TMJ’s amazing design includes adaptability to asymmetry. However, sometimes our ability to adapt is limited and needs support or treatment to compensate for uneven jaw structures . Thus, the jaw’s chronic inflammation and overuse on one side often leads to classic TMD symptoms and pain.
TMJ Can Cause an Uneven Jaw
Conversely, chronic and untreated TMD can actually lead to asymmetry of the jaw joint and an uneven appearance. Often, one side of the jaw is more affected by bone changes and inflammation than the other side, and over time, the jaw may start to look crooked. Pain and inflammation may be experienced on one side only, but this isn’t always the case. If you’re noticing a change in your facial appearance and your jaw looks crooked, this could be a red flag that TMD is affecting your facial bones and TMJ.
Treating an Uneven Jaw
Finding that your jaw looks uneven or that you have TMD symptoms on one side can be alarming, but don’t panic. An uneven jaw can typically be managed conservatively and without surgery. Our team of dental professionals can diagnose and treat TMD problems resulting from jaw asymmetry. Non-invasive measures are often successful, and treatments may include wearing an orthopedic dental appliance, muscle conditioning, diet modifications, stress reduction, and more. Your treatment plan should be customized based on your lifestyle and underlying TMD causes.
Does your jaw look uneven, or do you have symptoms like jaw discomfort, headaches, and pain when you awaken in the morning? Contact MedCenter TMJ to address this issue and start alleviating your jaw pain!