What Happens If TMJ Is Left Untreated?

A TMJ disorder is a painful condition affecting millions of Americans at any given time. However, it may not be a permanent condition. A dentist or oral surgeon could offer treatment to a patient struggling with a TMJ disorder that might significantly relieve or even eliminate their symptoms.

Receiving treatment early doesn’t merely ease a patient’s discomfort. Treating a TMJ disorder could also guard against future health complications a patient might otherwise develop.

What is TMJ?

TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. Your jaw has two of these joints. In coordination with certain facial muscles, they allow the jaw to move in various directions, such as up-and-down or side-to-side. Such movement plays a critical role in many basic life tasks, such as chewing.

Many also use TMJ (or TMD) to refer to several conditions involving these joints that may cause pain, limited movement, and other such symptoms. Per the TMJ Association, at any given time, an estimated 10 to upwards of 35 million people in the United States may struggle with these conditions.

Symptoms of TMJ

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of TMJ may include:

  • Jaw pain and/or tenderness
  • Consistent pain or discomfort near or in the ear
  • Discomfort when chewing and/or difficulty chewing
  • General facial pain that may feel aching
  • Difficulty opening one’s mouth, which may be due to a joint locking
  • Pain in areas near temporomandibular joints

See your dentist if you experience any of these symptoms. They can examine you to potentially determine the cause of the problem.

Why You Need to Get Treatment for a TMJ Disorder

Don’t ignore the issue if you suspect you might have TMJ. Complications that may develop or worsen if you don’t receive treatment include:

  • Pain: The discomfort you experience if you have TMJ could interfere with your day-to-day life. TMJ disorder might also spread to other areas of your body, such as your shoulder, and could limit your ability to perform daily tasks or work duties. It’s even possible for TMJ pain to negatively affect a patient’s ability to speak and communicate with others.
  • Oral health issues: An untreated TMJ disorder may put a patient at a greater risk of tooth grinding, which may wear away at their teeth. Over time, tooth grinding could lead to tooth loss or damage.
  • Sleep disorders: Some patients with untreated TMJ experience discomfort so significant that it prevents them from easily sleeping. When this occurs, patients face stress, depression, cardiovascular issues, and other health complications that can result from lack of proper sleep.
  • Poor nutrition: Again, patients with TMJ often have difficulty chewing. Someone who experiences pain when chewing might be less likely than others to get proper nutrition due to not eating enough.

These points shouldn’t scare you. Rather, they should spur you to see your dentist if you’ve experienced any potential symptoms of a TMJ disorder.

If You Have TMJ, Your Dentist May Help

Untreated TMJ has the potential to lead to a range of issues. Luckily, it may be possible to avoid these complications and restore your comfort. The sooner you see a professional, the sooner you can begin discussing treatment options.

Chang Dental Group provides the highest quality dental care in a warm and gentle environment to Natick, MA, and its surrounding areas. Their Services include TMJ Treatment, Family Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry, and more.