The role of orthodontics in temporomandibular disorders

J Oral Rehabil. 2010 May;37(6):411-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2842.2010.02087.x. Epub 2010 Apr 9.


Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) is the main cause of pain of non-dental origin in the oro-facial region including head, face and related structures. The aetiology and the pathophysiology of TMD is poorly understood. It is generally accepted that the aetiology is multifactorial, involving a large number of direct and indirect causal factors. Among such factors, occlusion is frequently cited as one of the major aetiological factors causing TMD. It is well known from epidemiologic studies that TMD-related signs and symptoms, particularly temporomandibular joint (TMJ) sounds, are frequently found in children and adolescents and show increased prevalence among subjects between 15 and 45 years old. Aesthetic awareness, the development of new aesthetic orthodontic techniques and the possibility of improving prosthetic rehabilitation has increased the number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment. The shift in patient age also has increased the likelihood of patients presenting with signs and symptoms of TMD. Because orthodontic treatment lasts around 2 years, orthodontic patients may complain about TMD during or after treatment and orthodontists may be blamed for causing TMD by unsatisfied patients. This hypothesis of causality has led to legal problems for dentists and orthodontists. For these reasons, the interest in the relationship between occlusal factors, orthodontic treatment and TMD has grown and many studies have been conducted. Indeed, claims that orthodontic treatment may cause or cure TMD should be supported by good evidence. Hence, the aim of this article is to critically review evidence for a possible association between malocclusion, orthodontic treatment and TMD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Facial Pain / etiology*
  • Facial Pain / physiopathology
  • Facial Pain / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Malocclusion / complications*
  • Malocclusion / physiopathology
  • Malocclusion / therapy*
  • Masticatory Muscles / physiopathology
  • Orthodontics / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / etiology*
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / physiopathology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / therapy*