I have been working through my Invisalign treatment for many months. I am on my 7th set of trays. Recently, I have started waking up with terrible headaches and my jaw is starting to hurt. Last week, I even feel like my face is hurting on the same side as the jaw pain. It also seems like it is becoming more difficult to open and close my mouth normally. Does this sounds like it could be TMJ? Is there any chance Invisalign can cause TMJ disorder?

– Rhonda in Iowa


TMJ disorder has many symptoms and causes. Generally speaking, Invisalign treatment or even traditional orthodontics doesn’t cause TMJ. That said, what you are describing does indeed sound like symptoms of TMJ. It is important that you discuss the pain in your jaw, the headaches, and any new symptoms that you encounter with the dentist that is administering your treatment. The TMJ pain can be difficult to diagnose and can be any number of causes, from genetics to bite problems, grinding or clenching at night, or some other trauma that you have experienced.

Your dentist is familiar with your case and will hopefully be able to identify the cause of your pain. If the TMJ discomfort is becoming too intense, it is possible he or she may recommend discontinuing or altering your Invisalign treatment. This is because Invisalign does tend to change your bite and it may intensify the symptoms you are experiencing. So although Invisalign likely didn’t cause your TMJ, it can irritate and influence an underlying issue. Hopefully that makes sense. But it would be very beneficial to discuss your issues with your dentist as soon as possible. If it is some time before your next exam, call in so you can be seen sooner. Addressing the TMJ/TMD issues are much more important than your Invisalign.

Thanks for your question!

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