Is TMJ Disorder Temporary Or Permanent?

Written byTMJ Relief

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The permanence of TMD (TMJ Disorder) is still a bone of contention, and the lack of specialists in this field has not helped to ease the situation.

For many, it is normally the incessant pain that comes with a dysfunction in their temporomandibular joint that causes them to seek medical attention.

But the question that still lingers is: “Is TMD temporary or permanent?”

Given the nature of TMD which affects comes as a result of upsetting, dysfunction or irritation of the jaw joint, the painful experience becomes very personalized to every individual.

Depending on the nature of the cause itself, the duration of pain will vary significantly from one person to another. One thing to note is that medication is your best bet for getting better. “TMJ pain won’t just go away,” as Medcenter TMJ assure.

To help you better understand the significance of this disorder we shall look at the following areas:

  1. Types of TMD
  2. Causes of TMD
  3. Treatments for TMD

The areas listed above will help us understand the dynamics involved in TMD.

After the discussion, we can form our conclusions. A brief introduction of TMD and TMJ as well as the differentiating factor between the two acronyms: TMD is an acronym representing Temporomandibular Disorder.

The disorder is attributed to the temporomandibular bone and areas surrounding it, in particular, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

The TMJ is responsible for the movement of our jaw be it speaking, chewing, yawning and other mundane activities that we rarely pay attention to.

The TMJ is made up of articulating surfaces, i.e., mandibular Foss, articular tubercle and head of the mandible. Holding these parts together are ligaments and articular disks.

So, the brief biology lesson is to make the point TMD arises when one of the areas is affected not just the joint in particular.

Types of TMD

TMD may arise from a series of problems affecting the temporomandibular bone not just the joint. The main differences include:

  • Myofascial pain
  • Internal derangement
  • Arthritis

TMD sometimes exists in comorbidity. That’s to say it may subsist in the presence of one or more diseases, disorders or conditions.

Myofascial pain occurs even when a TMJ is experiencing no issues.

This type is the most common form of hurt its usually caused by tension, stress, fatigue, frequent spasms in the jaw muscles, bruxism which is constant jaw clenching it may be consciously or unconsciously especially at night.

Internal Derangement- this is the displacement or the anterior misalignment of the articular disk which we mentioned in the introduction found above the condyle.

Symptoms include pain in the joints, ear’s and the joints popping whenever the jaw moves.

  1. Disk derangement with reduction
  2. Disk derangement without reduction

The difference between the two is when the disk lodges back to the condyle the disorder is said to be with reduction. If a situation occurs where the condyle does not lodge again, it is supposed to be without reduction.

Types of TMD

All types of derangement have the ability and risk of causing capsulitis also known as synovitis.

Capsulitis merely is the inflammation of the area especially the tissue surrounding the joint.


This is a degenerative condition that affects the joints since arthritis is not just one disease but instead an umbrella name about joint degeneration.

In our case arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis would affect the temporomandibular joint causing pain and inflammation also restricting the motion and movement of the joint.

Treatment of TMJ

The level of procedures used to treat TMD include:

  • Conservative
  • Reversible
  • Irreversible

Conservative treatment

Most people experience mild forms of TMD.

They are referred to as acute TMD. The treatments for acute TMD are not as intensive and tweaking a few habits here and there as well as some self-care administered treatment will help alleviate the situation.

Self-care treatments such as: eating soft foods, applying heat or moist ice packs avoiding wide yawning or singing particularly loud singing which is strenuous to the jaw.

Such procedures will ease the pain, and after a few months or weeks, the pain will ultimately disappear.

Most physicians recommend the least invasive measures that have no permanent damage to the structure of the jaw or teeth.

Reversible treatment

These treatments are administered to patients who are experiencing chronic pain.

Chronic is pain that after three months is still persistent. Reversible procedures do not involve any permanent changes in the teeth or jaw structure.

Though TMD may have become persistent in a patient, it mostly is not necessary to administer irreversible treatments.

Thus, reversible procedure is put in play. Irreversible therapies include:

  • Acupuncture - helps to relax muscles
  • TMJ Splints - help prevent the floor of teeth touching each other stopping grinding
  • Pain medications- such as ibuprofen and aspirins which are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs they help reduce pain in muscles and swellings. Usually found as OTC drugs. As well as anti-anxiety drugs which may help dull the pain prescribed only by a doctor and just after a short time.
  • Muscle relaxants, usually for people who clench and grind their teeth as they help loosen tight jaw muscles.
  • Anti-anxiety drugs to help reduce stress levels which increase the occurrence of symptoms
  • Injections- pain med injections or anesthetics that will relax the muscles and tender areas.
  • Occlusal bite

Irreversible treatment

This form of treatments primarily involves the use of surgery and the permanence of the effects after surgery.

It is usually used as a last resort. TMJ disorders such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis and internal derangement without reduction are candidates for surgical treatment.

The chronic pain experienced by patients with these conditions pushes them to get surgery as a form to correct the disks, especially in anteriorly disc derangement.

The treatment of TMD using surgery is not recommended since the effects are not much better than noninvasive procedures and as with invasive methods an increase in risks of the operation.


In conclusion, the nature of permanence of TMD or their temporary nature may be looked at from different perspectives:

The kinds of TMD and their causes have a role to play in determining whether it's temporary or permanent. Myofascial pain, which occurs even in the situation where the joint is correctly intact, may be described as a temporal TMD. This is because the pain is not constant. You will feel it in ebbs and flows.

In cases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the effects may be considered permanent since the results are experienced over an extended period.

  • Disk displacement TMD, especially anteriorly displaced derangement and disc derangement, without reduction, is mostly permanent since the structure of the jaw is what is affected.
  • Regarding treatment, acute TMD that can either be cured by self-care and or over the counter drugs plus other kinds of conservative methods of treatment. The reversible procedure also administered to nonpermanent TMD since no structure of the jaw or teeth requires change.
  • Irreversible treatment administered to TMD is what we would consider as permanent TMD. This is because the structure of either the jaw or teeth will require restoration - by alignment of the teeth or restructuring the jaw etc.

Therefore in regards to whether TMD temporary or permanent, the truth of the matter is that TMD is both permanent and temporary, depending on the nature.

If the treatment of the specific TMD requires a restructuring of the teeth or bone, then it is permanent.

However, if no lasting structural change is necessitated, then we would conclude the particular TMD to be temporary.

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