If left untreated, orthodontic problems can result in tooth decay, gum disease, headaches and earaches, as well as speaking, biting or chewing problems.
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"Stress is the predominant factor in TMD symptoms," says E. Mac Edington, DDS, MAGD, ABGD, past president of the AGD. "Unless your jaw or face hits the windshield, the steering wheel or another object, there is no physical correlation between TMD and whiplash," says Dr. Edington. "As the stress lessens, so will the pain."
TMD describes a variety of conditions that affect jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints and nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Symptoms may occur on one or both sides of the face, head or jaw, and may develop after an injury.
Misconceptions about the causes of TMD often prolongs suffering. "Your teeth should come together only for 10 to 12 minutes per day when you swallow," says Dr. Edington. He says the first thing to do is recognize when you are clenching or grinding your teeth. "Some people grind their teeth every time they do the dishes because they hate doing them," he says.
Updated: November 2008
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