What Happens If TMJ Goes Untreated?

What Happens If TMJ Goes Untreated?

TMJ disorder starts in the jaw, but it has far-reaching effects that extend beyond the temporomandibular joints. But, the longer you wait to treat the pain, the more likely you are to develop other serious symptoms. Dr. Steven Hough is a recognized expert in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorder. This is important because treating TMJ pain requires a thorough understanding of its causes. That allows us to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses the root of your symptoms. 

Consequences of allowing TMJ disorder to go untreated:

  1. Chronic Jaw Pain and Joint Damage: When symptoms first appear, you may experience intermittent jaw pain exacerbated by stress or even simply chewing gum or opening your mouth too wide when you yawn.
    Damage to the temporomandibular joint accumulates over time, leading to chronic pain and other symptoms such as jaw cracking, popping, and locking. The discomfort and inflammation can extend beyond your joints, causing pain and discomfort across your face, neck and shoulders.
    If the bones in your joints deteriorate enough to where they no longer function, you may need surgery to relieve your pain. It is important to take a proactive approach to TMJ pain in order to avoid permanent joint injury.
  2. Headaches: Tension headaches and migraines are common symptoms of TMJ disorder. These headaches are caused by the ever-persistent joint inflammation, making the headaches sometimes crippling and chronic. If your headaches are caused by TMJ disorder, once the temporary fix of pain relievers or muscle relaxers wears off, the headache will return because the underlying cause has not been resolved. 
  3. Compromised Oral Health: Untreated TMJ disorder is linked to teeth grinding and jaw clenching, which wears away your tooth enamel over time. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching also exposes your teeth to potential fractures. Additionally, one side of the jaw is often preferred over the other, causing irregular tooth wear, asymmetrical muscle growth, and uneven swelling of the face. All of which, can affect your facial appearance. 
  4. Hearing problems: That’s right. TMJ disorder can cause problems. Since the temporomandibular joints are so close to the ear canals, patients often experience symptoms in their ears. Left untreated, TMJ disorder can lead to tinnitus (ringing in the ears), which can make it difficult to sleep and focus. TMJ disorder can also make the ear canals feel full or stuffy. Since the body’s sense of balance is located in the inner ears, TMJ disorder related muscle inflammation can affect balance, causing dizziness and vertigo.
  5. Other symptoms: Patients who suffer from chronic, untreated TMJ disorder may experience numbness or tingling in their hands and fingers, have one shoulder that is higher than the other. They might also notice that their heads are tilted to the side when they look at themselves in the mirror. This can all be attributed to the muscle tension caused by TMJ disorder.

What should you do?

It is always better to seek out a professional opinion from a specialist then continue to let a problem go untreated. Call Hough Orthodontics today for a complimentary exam and consultation with Dr. Steven Hough, a specialist in TMJ Disorder, at 636.391.1959.