Malocclusion can cause a number of problems, not just with teeth, but with gums, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and jaw muscles. Teeth, fillings, and crowns may wear, break, or loosen, and teeth may be tender or ache. Receding gums can be exacerbated by a faulty bite. TMJ problems, broadly termed temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ syndrome, can include clicking, grinding, or pain in the jaw joint, ringing or buzzing in the ears, and difficulty opening and closing the mouth. If the jaw is mispositioned, jaw muscles may have to work harder, which can lead to fatigue and or muscle spasms. This in turn can lead to headaches or migraines, eye or sinus pain, and pain in the neck, shoulder, or even back. Untreated damaging malocclusion can lead to occlusal trauma.
Some of the treatments for different occlusal problems include tooth adjustments, replacement of teeth, medication (usually temporary), a diet of softer foods, relaxation therapy for stress-related clenching. Fixed appliances, known as orthodontic or dental braces, may be used to adjust the occlusion, and removable appliances, called occlusal splints, may be used for adjustment as well as for other purposes.
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