TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is not necessarily life-threatening but can lead to health issues or become increasingly uncomfortable if left untreated for a long time. The results of neglecting treatment can include facial pain, teeth damage and misalignment, and damage to your joints.
Many factors cause TMJ.
It is prudent to keep in mind that you do not simply wake up to TMJ extremities. Normally, it develops over time, and the causes could be congenital.
When the conditions stemmed from your childhood, it is a congenital cause.
However, other bite-related causes include night teeth clenching during deep sleep or unnoticeable stress.
Here are more details about the causes of TMJ.
Causes of TMJ
- Teeth clenching
- Neck or jaw injuries
- Facial muscle tightening as a result of stress and anxiety
- Joint arthritis
- Missing teeth
- Worn out teeth cause uneven biting surfaces
- A misaligned upper and lower jaw bite
- Misalignment of the disc the ball and the joint socket
Signs and symptoms of TMJ
It may be challenging to understand the implications of untreated TMJ if you do not comprehend what the condition is caused by and how best to diagnose. The signs and symptoms of TMJ may vary according to genetic and environmental factors, but here are some of the most common.
- Ear pains
- Tightened face muscles
- Clicking and popping sounds when you move your jaw slightly
- Chewing pain
- Challenges when attempting to open your mouth
- Pain in the jaws
- Headaches close to the temple
- Ringing in the ear (Tinnitus)
- Locked jaws
- Pain in early morning
- Pain when you are stressed
The role the temporomandibular joints have in the entire body is far too impressive to be ignored. For example, these joints connect the frontal ear with the temporal bone to serve as hinges.
What happens if TMJ is left untreated
Frequent occurrence of unrelated medical conditions
While it may not seem evident at first, TMJ could result in resorting to bad habit to numb the pain. These habits can equally be deemed as health complications because you develop an addiction without realizing its growth. For instance, since TMJ could be congenital, it means that you must have grown from childhood to adolescent and into adulthood with the condition gradually manifesting within you.
As time goes by, you may decide to resort to liquor or abusing other substances that can numb the slight pain away. In most cases, this occurs due to self-medication objectives.
If you keep going down this path, especially without the intervention of a primary healthcare professional, the addiction will become a disease. Other unrelated complications here include depression and individual isolation whose impacts can be manifested in your academic, social, religious and professional life.
Do not forget that malnutrition is not far from the equation. If you fail to eat due to advancing extreme pain, eating disorders are headed your way.
Insomnia and sleep disturbances
Even though TMJ is not life-threatening, the discomfort of teeth and jaw muscles is enough to disturb your sleeping pattern. During sleep, you are bound to subconsciously clench and grind your teeth, especially when dreaming about violent or unpleasant nightmares.
When this happens, the pain becomes too much for your body to bear. Insomnia can be made worse or equally trigger other health complications like depression and anxiety.
In the United States, Millennials, as opposed to any other generational demography in the population, are two times prone to anxiety and stress disorders. Perhaps this explains why Millennials equally record the highest number of people that have attempted and or used drugs and substances like marijuana in their lives.
Jaw complications and tinnitus
Untreated TMJ can lead to worse dental complexities. Do not underestimate the long term effects of Tinnitus since you could end up with compromised hearing abilities permanently.
When your ear stability is interfered with, you could develop instability issues. Ideally, recurrent dizziness and vertigo are associated with Tinnitus and other jaw problems.
The problems do not end there since imbalanced stability could also compromise your vision. You do not want to be stuck behind the wheel with an extreme TMJ.
Did you know that accidents are among the top 5 causes of preventable deaths across the world. TMJ could increase your chances of getting involved in an accident if you do not treat it well in advance.
One of the major jaw problems associated with jaws is lockjaw. It is painful, uncomfortable and worst of all, could make you lose appetite. A lockjaw is serious because it could remain stuck open permanently.
Lastly, the cartilage could break, resulting in unforeseen expensive trips to the healthcare facility. You can avoid all of these health issues by ensuring that you identify all the potential signs and symptoms of TMJ before it gets worse.
TMJ complications stretch far and wide depending on your genetic makeup and medical history. The good news is that despite the intensity of the signs and symptoms, there is one therapy or treatment that can help you sleep better tomorrow.
Importance of not leaving your TMJ untreated
Protection of ear health
There is a close connection between TMJ disorder and tinnitus. A common symptom associated with the two is ringing in the ears. People who experience high-pitched ringing cannot tell which complication they have before a diagnosis.
However, the majority of people who have the complication complain of signs of tinnitus. The reason behind this is, the chewing muscles are close to the muscles in the middle of the ear.
Also, there is a connection between the hearing bones in the middle of the ear and the ligaments that attach to the jaw. Therefore, treating TMJ illness alleviates the symptoms associated with tinnitus thus, improving the general health of the ear.
Treating TMJ improves eating habits
With TMJ, people limit the type of food they consume because chewing proves difficult. Science explains that people who have TMJ disorder experience loss of appetite.
It is almost impossible to enjoy eating because of the pain that comes with moving the misaligned jaws. Mostly, people with the disorder avoid eating, which can lead to malnutrition.
Health studies prove that folks with TMJ complications can develop anorexia. This makes it worse because eating disorders can cause permanent damage to gums and some soft tissues inside the mouth. Treating temporomandibular jaw disorder is an excellent step as it improves their eating habits, thus boosting the body’s immune system and general health.
Treating TMJ protects teeth
TMJ comes with eating disorders. This is risky because diet plays a significant role in oral health. Without proper nutrition, the body lacks enough calcium for the development of strong teeth.
What happens if TMJ is left untreated is that one often develops tooth decay, tooth cavity, gum diseases, and other oral complications. Many TMJ illness patients also complain of gum bleeding, swollen glands, and injury of soft tissue inside the mouth, all of which affect the health of teeth.
Treating temporomandibular jaw disorder reduces the risk of dental damage since one can consume all the nutrients necessary for good oral health. Apart from that, treating the complication reduces the chances of developing bruxism, chronic teeth grinding, which leads to cracked teeth.
Treating TMJ alleviates chronic pain
Treating the temporomandibular jaw diseases relieves pain caused by migraines and other related symptoms. TMJ disorder causes intense pain in the jaw as it affects muscles, cartilage, and tendons.
Also, this disease is a potential cause of arthritis, a complication accompanied by chronic pain. The temporomandibular jaw illness also causes pain in other parts of the face because of the interconnection between muscles and tendons.
Furthermore, oral health statistics reveal that TMJ disorder affects the entire body, leading to pain in the back, shoulders, joints, and other parts of the body. 90% of patients who undergo successful treatment admit that their bodies feel and function better.
Treatment improves overall health
Temporomandibular jaw disease links to several complications. Individuals who have the disorder are likely to suffer from anorexia, anemia, various types of arthritis, bruxism, connective tissue disease, tinnitus, and autoimmune diseases.
Other associated discomforts include aching facial pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and difficulty in chewing. That said, treating the jaw complication improves one’s general health.
Through healthy eating, TMJ disorder patients restore their immunity, thus able to fight several diseases. In conjunction with that, one’s mood improves as the pain subsides.
Treatments for TMJ disorder
Treating temporomandibular disorder involves several types of medications.
Here, the doctor prescribes OTC medications such as ibuprofen that relieve the associated joint and muscle pains. The type of pain reliever depends on the extent of pain that one is experiencing.
These are medications that help patients cope with mental-related symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and distress. They also control the grinding of teeth and drowsiness.
Muscle relaxants, such as Metaxalone and Baclofen, are drugs that relieve pain in the muscles by reducing muscle spasms. These medications reduce pain in the back, neck, shoulders, face, and other affected locations.
These are drugs that treat inflammation, mild to moderate pain, and fever. The typical anti-inflammatory prescription drugs for TMJ syndrome include Meloxicam, Nabumetone, and Celecoxib.
Nerve Pain Medications
Drugs such as Topamax, Neutronin, and Pregabalin are induced to relieve nerve pain.
Doxepin is a sleep medication drug that assists TMJ syndrome patients to have a better sleep. It works by blocking histamine receptors, thus helping patients stay asleep.
This is a surgery that can treat different types of TMJ disorders. It involves the insertion of a cannula into the joint space and involves fewer risks compared to open-joint surgery.
Open-joint surgery is useful for patients with structural problems on the joints.
This is an indirect surgical procedure performed on the mandible rather than the joint.
Untreated TMJ can lead to severe health complications and discomfort.
Therefore, it is crucial not leave it untreated, but to seek medical assistance as early as possible to avoid permanent damage. Fortunately, the majority of the performed treatment procedures prove fruitful, as most patients experience an improvement concerning general health. The best part is there are several types of treatments depending on the severity of the condition.