Are you experiencing frequent jaw pain, jaw clicking, or headaches? These are common symptoms of TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ refers to problems with the two joints on either side of your face that connect your jaw to your skull. At first, TMJ can be annoying, but what are the long-term consequences?
Long-Term Effects of Untreated TMJ
While some people only have TMJ issues when they’re stressed, others deal with symptoms all the time. Here’s what can happen when you don’t address it:
Chronic Jaw Pain
Early on, TMJ may only cause mild discomfort, but more severe cases can cause significant pain. Normal activities like talking and chewing can hurt. The pain can also spread to your facial muscles, ears, and even your neck.
Like all joints, the ones in your jaw can get permanently damaged. As your TMJ gets worse, the supportive cartilage can wear down, which leads to the loss of bone mass in your jaw. This is a very painful condition. Without strong cartilage, your jaw can also get dislocated.
Bruxism (or teeth-grinding) and TMJ have a close relationship. Sometimes, bruxism causes TMJ, while other times, it’s TMJ that leads people to grind their teeth. Regardless of which one came first, teeth-grinding wears down your tooth enamel and increases your risk for decay, chips, and cracks. Once tooth enamel is gone, it’s gone, so TMJ can permanently damage your teeth.
TMJ affects multiple muscles in your face, so when you have joint problems, the tension can cause bad headaches. You may even wake up with headaches, which is an awful way to start your day. If you don’t treat your TMJ, the headaches can become worse and more frequent.
TMJ Therapy at River Vista Family Dental in Charlotte, North Carolina
As soon as you notice TMJ symptoms like jaw stiffness or clicking when you open and close your mouth, we can help! There’s no cure for TMJ, but reducing your stress, massaging your face muscles, and exercising your jaw can relieve pain. We also offer custom mouthguards, which help reduce jaw clenching and teeth-grinding. If you have questions about TMJ or want to make an appointment with Dr. Marshall, please contact us today!