TMJ syndrome refers to a disorder of the temporomandibular joint that connects the jaw to the rest of the skull. When this joint becomes irritated, inflamed, or otherwise compromised, the pain can become unbearable in a short period of time. This is due to the central location of the temporomandibular joint, which allows the discomfort to spread beyond the jaw itself and into the mouth, teeth, ears, eyes, neck, shoulders and head. Additionally, since TMJ disorder is easily aggravated by so many normal daily tasks like eating, talking and yawning, it can be difficult to avoid for even a moment. For this reason, anyone who suffers from TMJ syndrome should seek treatment from an experienced TMJ professional immediately. Failure to do so may have serious lifelong consequences.
TMJ can lead to other medical conditions
To begin, the pain itself, which can quickly escalate from annoying to crippling, must be considered. Most sufferers will attempt to alleviate their chronic TMJ pain on their own, through self-medication. Over time, popping a few pain relievers here and there to ease the symptoms can turn into a full-blown addiction. Many TMJ sufferers fall prey to alcoholism and drug abuse if left untreated by a medical professional. This constant pain, combined with the tendency of some people with TMJ to grind their teeth in their sleep, can lead to a pattern of sleep disturbance and insomnia as well. TMJ symptoms may also contribute to depression, which can in turn negatively impact job performance, personal relationships and general quality of life. Not treating your TMJ could also lead to malnutrition or even eating disorders, as patients attempt to avoid the problem by eating only soft foods, liquids, or not eating altogether. No one should have to suffer in silence, particularly since TMJ can be treated permanently through safe, non-surgical means.
TMJ and your dental health
Putting off treatment or just "living with the pain" of your TMJ symptoms could result in additional dental health issues. Many TMJ patients show signs of premature wear and tear from grinding or clenching their teeth, often without knowledge. This can lead to fractured teeth and worn down enamel. The tendency of sufferers is to favor one side of the jaw over the other which can create swelling on one side of the face, and unsymmetrical muscle growth over time. This can give the patient a lopsided appearance.
TMJ can lead to Tinnitus and jaw problems
Since the joint in question is located directly underneath the ears, many TMJ sufferers contend with pain in their ears. Eventually, TMJ disorder may lead to tinnitus or even permanently compromised hearing. Inner ear problems can also produce difficulties with balance and recurring dizziness (Vertigo). Similarly, vision can be compromised by untreated TMJ symptoms.
TMJ can also lead to serious jaw problems. For instance, the jaw may become permanently “stuck” open (locked jaw) requiring a trip to the emergency room to forcibly open or close the mouth. In addition, the breakdown of the cartilage in the jaw over time not only leads to pain and unpleasant grinding sounds – it can also result in the dislocation of the jaw. Don’t wait for your TMJ to escalate – contact TMJ expert, Dr. Eddie Siman, today.