What Happens if TMJ is Left Untreated?
When TMJ disorder is left untreated, it can begin to have widespread effects on the body. Although the disorder begins in the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), when the TMJ are dysfunctional, it often causes chronic pain that impacts your overall quality of life. By identifying the root cause of your TMJ disorder, we can develop a customized approach to treatment that alleviates the true source of your chronic pain. When TMJ disorder isn’t addressed, it can cause the following symptoms:
Chronic Jaw Pain and Joint Damage
TMJ disorder (TMD) symptoms are likely to be occasional annoyances when you first start noticing them, triggered by stress, eating certain tough or chewy foods, or opening your mouth too wide. While your TMJ cause you discomfort, it’s not unbearable and your symptoms come-and-go; as soon as you’re bothered enough to make an appointment, your pain resolves and you forget about it—until the next flare-up.
As TMD progresses, the temporomandibular joints may begin to deteriorate, causing persistent pain and other joint symptoms such as jaw popping, cracking, and locking. You may experience tenderness and pain in your face, neck, and shoulders as a result of this jaw joint dysfunction.
If the bones in your temporomandibular joints have degenerated to the point where they no longer function effectively, TMJ surgery may be required. Taking a proactive approach to TMD treatment will help you avoid surgery.
Compromised Oral Health
Bruxism, or teeth grinding and jaw clenching, is among the most common causes of TMD. These habits can wear down your tooth enamel over time, leaving the teeth vulnerable to fractures, and can cause gum recession. TMJ disorder can also lead to asymmetrical muscle growth and abnormal tooth wear, which can affect your facial appearance and cause further dental issues.
TMJ disorder is often the underlying cause of tension headaches and migraines. In fact, headaches are one of the most common signs of TMD, aside from jaw pain. When chronic joint dysfunction and inflammation trigger headaches, they can become so frequent that they impact your ability to work and go about your other daily activities. A doctor may provide you with a prescription for your migraines, but as soon as your medication wears off, your headaches will come back because the joint dysfunction causing them remains unresolved.
Ear and Hearing Issues
It’s common to experience TMD symptoms in the ears because the temporomandibular joints are located adjacent to the ear canals. TMJ disorder can cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears), making it difficult to sleep and concentrate, as well as feelings of fullness or pain in the ear canals. Because the inner ears are associated with our sense of balance, when the muscles surrounding the TMJ are inflamed and impacting the ear canals, it can cause dizziness, vertigo, and unsteadiness.
Learn More About TMJ Disorder
Do you think you have TMJ disorder? Have you been diagnosed with TMD, but haven’t found a treatment that works? Contact us today at 505-292-1051 to schedule an appointment today with Dr. Dennis, a TMJ specialist in Albuquerque.