I had braces for about two years. When the braces were removed, I wore the retainers religiously for about a year and a half until I lost them - this is when all of the problems began. I did not get new retainers for well over a month and, during this intermittent period, my teeth and jaw felt "weird" and out of place. When I went to the orthodontist to get my new retainers, they took x-rays and told me that I should get my two lower (impacted) wisdom teeth removed because they were putting pressure on my bottom teeth and causing discomfort and slight movement. So, about a month later, I had two wisdom teeth removed. My orthodontist and oral surgeon informed me that my jaw discomfort should settle down after the wisdom teeth removal. However, nothing changed, and I continued to experience discomfort. Since then, I have been to a number of dentists and jaw specialists. One doctor thought that I might be grinding my teeth, so I got a night guard, but this also didn't solve anything.
So, I am still experiencing the following symptoms:
Jaw muscle tightness and soreness only after talking for a while - for me, speaking used to be natural, but now it is laborious and it is difficult to speak clearly - everything feels out of place when I talk and, after a while, I experience soreness, tightness, and sometimes a little bit of pain mostly in the jaw muscles. Sometimes, I experience discomfort in the joint. My jaw makes noise (faint grinding) when I open my mouth wide, but it is not painful.
My teeth appear to be perfect. When I bite down, however, my upper incisors and canines no longer touch my lower incisors and canines. My back molars touch first preventing my upper incisors/canines from touching my lower incisors/canines. The gap is unnoticeable to the common viewer, but it is there.
General tooth discomfort - my bottom teeth almost feel strained. For example, I often get the urge to push on my bottom teeth.
Increased spit accumulation - When I had braces, I understandably produced saliva as a lubricant. But, when I got the braces off, I stopped accumulating so much spit in my mouth. After losing my retainers, however, and going through all of this discomfort, I am almost producing as much saliva as when I had braces.
Long story short, no one seems to know what is wrong with me. I mean, I am not experiencing debilitating pain, but my jaw/teeth are uncomfortable and feel out of place making it difficult to speak clearly. My cheeks feel swollen and tight. I often get the urge to "chew" on the inside of my cheek.
In conclusion, my theory is that my bad bite and jaw displacement were all caused by tooth/jaw movement after I lost my retainers. Therefore, to reverse this movement and thus get rid of the discomfort, I believe that I should get braces again. I have said this to almost all of the doctors I have visited, and most of them have said that it is "too extreme." Well, what else am I supposed to do? I had no problems when I was wearing my retainers after I go my braces off, so if my teeth and jaw are moved back into this position, isn't it only logical that the discomfort will disappear?
I don't think the discomfort/pain is severe enough to constitute TMJ, but I am experiencing some similar symptoms and I thought somebody in this forum could help me. Does anyone have any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions?
I totally agree with your assessment of your problem and proposed treatment - it seems to makes sense for a number of reasons. What was the purpose of the braces inititally?
It seems that the orthodontia has resulted in a slightly open bite so when you go to close or when speaking, your back teeth hit first and act as a fulcrum or "nutcracker" - so the further you close to have your front teeth meet or rest - the more the pressure between yoru back teeth increases - and b/c your front teeth are not long enough - this would interefere or become a hindrance when speaking - so your muscles are being stressed and you are experiencing "dysfuntion" - while maybe not tmj or a joint issue it may fall under tmd.
Have you tried going to an ortho or nm dentist trained in FJO- functional jaw orthotics? They are ususally more advanced in training with regards to this type of problem.
A word of caution however, do not allow any filing or equillibration of your back teeth until you know for certain this will help - many dentists may look at this type of problem to be a quick fix simply by lowering the back teeth - this however might change the vertical dimension of your mouth and the balance and position of the temporal planes which allows the tm joint to work properly. It would be better to first try a splint that would add length to your front teeth and allow them to touch or rest on each other and see if that helps - if it does then you and your dentist can then decide what is best to do to make that permanent.
Yes, the bite is strongly related to the speech ability.
All your symptoms are very familiar to me b/c I went through wearing all kinds of temps over few years.
I want to clarify on few things:
[General tooth discomfort - my bottom teeth almost feel strained. For
example, I often get the urge to push on my bottom teeth.]
What do you mean by push on the bottom teeth? Move the lower jaw forward?
Were the braces pushing your upper fronts to the back or what were they doing?
Your slightly open bite might be very responsible for the speech problems. Do you have the natural fronts? Were they altered in any way after the retainers?
For the speech the critical points are:
where the edges of the fronts are and what is the inner incline of the upper fronts.
Those direct the lower jaw when it has to move to talk.
Also the backs should immediately disocclude from the biting position as soon as the jaw moves forward. If not they produce a lot of traction and the jaw has to work hard to move forward which makes it fatigue and hurt.
I have/had the saliva problem too but haven't figured out yet what causes it. All I know is that it's definitely from not completely functional occlusion. Perfect biting contacts are not enough. Moreover, it depends whether you are biting in the place where your jaw “wants” to bite or somewhere else (i.e. based on what theory your dentist studied).
From your inner cheek "biting " for comfort I can even suspect a lowered VDO (vertical dimension of the bite) or the same lack of the anterior guidance as I mentioned above.
Do your jaw muscles fatigue also from eating/chewing?
Try to watch more carefully and in slow motion what your jaw would want to do when you are about to speak. This might give you the clue of where the contacts are too high or where they are missing.
Thanks for your replies...let me clarify a few things.
First, the braces were initially put on because i had crooked teeth. There were no severe bite problems or teeth problems.
All of my teeth are natural and perfectly healthy - no cavities, fillings, etc.
Also, let me clarify my bite - my upper incisors still overlap my lower incisors, but they just don't touch. So, they look fine, but my upper incisors/canines do not come in to contact with my lower incisors/canines when I bite down.
No, my jaw does not fatigue or feel uncomfortable after chewing/eating.
The tooth discomfort is hard to explain - my bottom teeth just feel weird. I often get the urge to push my bottom teeth backwards with my fingers. I don't know why - (maybe my lower jaw protrudes slightly too far?)
Finally, this problem hasn't resulted in any severe speech problems - it is just more difficult to precisely annunciate words.
The enunciation problem - i had that too after braces - is usually related to how the tip of your tongue presses against the back of your upper front teeth - so the distance - be it too short or too far - for the tongue to come in contact and press against the back of the upper front teeth has a role in being able to enunciate clearly as does how far up and forward the tongue needs to go. Enunciation issues can also be related to muscle dysfunction - a friend of mine once had to go for speech therapy when she was younger and they basically taught her how to use her tongue and facial muscles differently.