If you suffer from a TMJ disorder or have ever heard about it, you probably already know that TMJ disorders can cause severe jaw pain, neck pain, headaches, and migraines. But did you know that TMJ disorders can affect your facial appearance? As your TMJ disorder develops, you might notice slight changes in your face like asymmetry.

Learn why TMD causes facial changes, how to prevent it, and what you can do to treat it.

woman suffering from jaw pain

Off-Balance Jaw From Tooth Wear

One of the first ways TMJ disorder can affect your appearance is by causing your jaw to look imbalanced. One of the ways it can cause your face to look imbalanced is because it causes you to chew on one side of your mouth more than the other. When one side chews more than the other, it’s natural for those teeth to wear down faster. As teeth start to wear down, it can cause your jaw to also lose height. As a result, your jaw will look slanted when you close your teeth together.

Tilted Jaw From Joint Displacement

One of the causes of TMD is an imbalanced jaw joint. This imbalance is caused by a displaced or worn disk. With a displaced or worn disk, the jaw joint loses its height and slants to one side. This can cause your jaw to look tilted and asymmetrical.

Uneven Face Height Due to Bone Irregularity

Another factor related to TMJ disorders that can change your facial appearance is bone irregularity. It’s common for TMJ sufferers to experience a shorter jawbone on one side than the other due to a worn condyle. The condyle is the round part of the jawbone that rests against the skull. People may also have a shorter ramus that causes an uneven face. The ramus is the vertical area of the jaw that forms the back. It’s unclear whether ramus height is a result of untreated TMJ or if it’s a cause of TMJ.

Bulging From Overdeveloped Muscles

One problem that often occurs with TMJ disorders is bulging on one side of the face. The bulging is due to overworked muscles. When you have a TMJ disorder, there is an imbalance in your jaw joints which causes your muscles to try to correct the problem. Think of it as having a broken leg and instead of resting your leg to get better, your leg works harder to try and correct itself. This will only cause your muscles to become sore and worn out. The sore muscles in your jaw will begin to bulge due to irritation and swelling and can cause your face to look asymmetrical.

Tilted Head From Spinal Imbalance

Another facial change you might notice due to TMJ is a tilted head. Your head might tilt when the jaw joint imbalance moves past the joint. Eventually, the imbalance will lead to an imbalance in your neck which can cause your head to tilt to one side. You might not even notice your head tilting until you see a picture of yourself or try to balance a book on your head.

Treatment For TMJ Facial Appearance Changes

Now that you know about all the different facial changes that can occur with TMD, it’s time to find out how you can treat them. One of the first steps to treating your facial changes is actually treating your TMJ disorder. At Divine Smiles, Dr. Clancy will use advanced technology to diagnose your TMD. He will use TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to relax your jaw into a comfortable position. Then, he will use K7 to map out your jaw’s movement when it’s relaxed. With this information, Dr. Clancy will create a customized treatment plan to stabilize your bite and help your jaw rest comfortably at all times. Treatment may include wearing an orthotic device, and orthodontics.

With your jaw resting at a comfortable position, your muscles will no longer bulge, your head should stop tilting, and your facial height should even out.

Lastly, Dr. Clancy may recommend dental crowns, porcelain veneers, or full mouth reconstruction to rebuild worn teeth back to their original height. This will help restore your facial appearance and smile and stabilize your bite further.

Preventing Facial Changes with TMJ Treatment

If you don’t want to deal with facial changes due to TMJ disorders, the best prevention is getting treatment early on. When you visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and exams, we search for signs of TMJ disorders. If we notice any unusual wear and tear, clicking or popping, or you experience jaw pain, we will help you get treatment before severe damage can occur. The sooner you get treatment, the less likely you will experience facial changes.

If you think you have a TMJ disorder, please contact our TMJ dentist in Woburn, MA today for an appointment by calling (781) 396-8558.