What Happens if TMJ is Left Untreated?

What Happens if TMJ is Left Untreated?

December 1, 2022

Temporomandibular joints are the joints that connect your skull to the lower jaw. They allow you to perform various oral functions like chewing, speaking, laughing, and yawning. Unfortunately, these joints can develop a problem, resulting in mild to chronic symptoms like pain and inflammation.

A disorder of the temporomandibular joints is known as TMJ or TMD (temporomandibular disorders or dysfunction). The symptoms of TMJ can range from mild to chronic. They are often aggravated by normal tasks like chewing, speaking, opening the mouth, or yawning. In some cases, the symptoms resolve on their own without treatment.

However, professional diagnosis and treatment are highly recommended since TMJ can sometimes be caused by serious conditions like stress, rheumatoid arthritis, and acute trauma. Visit our dental office for TMJ treatment in Philadelphia, PA. Besides relieving your symptoms, the dentist or doctor will identify the root problem to provide a long-term solution.

Can TMJ get worse if not treated?

While some overlook TMJ, it can worsen over time, leading to serious consequences if left untreated. While TMJ disorder may originate in the joints, it can cause symptoms beyond the jaw. The longer the disorder goes untreated, the more likely it is to cause severe symptoms. Common consequences of untreated TMJ include:

  • Chronic jaw pain and damage

The first symptom of TMJ is often mild to severe jaw pain, which worsens when opening the mouth wide, yawning, chewing, or when stressed. Over time, the damage to the TMD joints accumulates, leading to chronic jaw pain and other symptoms like locking, cracking, or popping of the jaw. Over time, this can lead to permanent joint injuries or dislocation.

  • Headaches, earaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and facial pain

Chronic pain and inflammation can go beyond your jaws. You can also experience symptoms in the nearby structures like the head, face, neck, and shoulders. Chronic pains can affect your diet, work, and learning, leading to malnutrition, poor school performance, and reduced productivity.

  • Decreased quality of life

Untreated TMJ can cause significant pain and discomfort in the jaw, teeth, ears, head, neck, and shoulders. These symptoms can cause you to avoid work or school, avoid certain foods, turn down social obligations, and spend most of your time in unbearable pain and swelling. All these symptoms can contribute to a lower quality of life.

  • Hearing problems or tinnitus

Since the temporomandibular joints are near the ear canals, chronic TMJ pain and inflammation can lead to hearing difficulties or ringing of the ears. To feel your temporomandibular joints, place your hand in front of the ear and then close and open your mouth. You should feel the joints moving.

Hearing problems or tinnitus can affect your sleep and normal activities like working or learning. Similarly, since the body’s sense of balance is in the inner ears, TMJ pain and inflammation can affect your balance, causing vertigo, dizziness, and unsteadiness.

  • Airway sleep disorders

TMJ disorders can aggravate bruxism and cause a misaligned bite and jaw pain. These symptoms can cause severe pain and potentially obstruct your airway when sleeping. It can result in obstructive sleep apnea, where your breathing suddenly stops and begins when sleeping. This condition can cause loud snoring, prevent you from getting quality sleep, cause daytime fatigue, cause daytime sleepiness, and increase your risk of serious health conditions like heart disease.

  • Dental damage

Since TMJ causes jaw tightness and pain, it can worsen or cause teeth grinding and clenching. Without treatment, regular teeth grinding will damage your teeth, causing them to wear down and making them vulnerable to fractures, cracks, breaks, and even tooth loss. Eventually, you may need invasive restorative treatments like dental filling, crowns, and implants to correct your problems.

  • Mental problems

TMJ can cause chronic pain and inflammation in the jaw, teeth, ears, head, and face. These symptoms affect your diet, work, school, and social events. In short, everything you enjoy might be affected. Over time, constant pain and lack of purpose and interaction can cause stress, depression, and other mental problems.

  • Drug and alcohol abuse

Continued pain and stress can cause someone to turn to drugs or alcohol to find relief and comfort. Unfortunately, these actions can expose you to further complications.

Schedule an appointment today

Do you suspect you might have TMJ? Contact Elegance in Dentistry for a professional diagnosis and treatment.

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