If you’re experiencing pain, locking, popping, or clicking in your jaw joint, you may wonder how long it will take for your TMJ symptoms to go away. While we’d love to give you a simple answer, the truth is that symptoms of TMJ may linger, depending upon what’s causing the disorder, how quickly you seek treatment, and how effective the treatment proves to be for you. Here’s what to expect if you’re dealing with a new onset of TMJ symptoms.
TMJ: What Causes Problems in the Jaw Joint?
Pain, clicking, popping, and locking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) results from the following primary causes.
Grinding your teeth at night (bruxism) can cause symptoms to develop in the jaw joint. The pressure on the joint can lead to irritation, tenderness, and inflammation.
The temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw to the skull, can develop arthritis just like a knee joint, hip joint, or any other joint in the body. If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid, psoriatic, or osteoarthritis, you may experience symptoms in the TMJ.
If your bite is not properly aligned you may be putting strain and stress on the jaw joint. This can cause pain, along with popping or clicking noises when you chew.
An injury to the mouth, face, or jaw can damage the joint, causing TMJ symptoms.
If a disc in the joint is dislocated, either due to a congenital issue or acute trauma, you’ll likely develop pain in the TMJ.
There Are Many Non-Surgical Treatments for TMJ
If you’ve developed symptoms of a TMJ disorder, you’ll be glad to know that a variety of non-surgical treatments can help the symptoms to go away relatively quickly. For example, if TMJ pain has arisen because you’re grinding your teeth while you sleep, a custom oral appliance (night guard) will help. By alleviating the pressure on the joint, you’ll likely experience relief within a week.
While you wait for your night guard to be made, your dentist may recommend that you switch to soft foods, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, and work to reduce stress. People tend to grind their teeth more during stressful periods of life. Your dentist may recommend different meditation or relaxation techniques or apps that can help you to relax. You may notice that your jaw joint hurts less and less as you begin to reduce stress.
If your TMJ symptoms are caused by arthritis, non-surgical treatments may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and icing the jaw to reduce inflammation. This can bring about relief very quickly. Your dentist may also recommend soft foods until the inflammation calms down in a week or so.
If your TMJ pain is caused by a misaligned bite, orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign can correct the alignment of your teeth, alleviating the pain from TMJ. However, this will take at least a few months to correct.
If you’ve suffered trauma, or there is a dislocation in the joint, surgery will be the last result. Relief from your TMJ symptoms may take several weeks post-surgery to resolve.
Non-Surgical Treatment for TMJ in San Francisco
At San Francisco Dental Wellness, our expert dentists will work with you to reduce pain from TMJ from your very first appointment. Surgery will never be recommended until all non-surgical treatments have been exhausted. To get relief from TMJ as soon as possible it is best to schedule an appointment as soon as you develop symptoms.
Dr. Chris Chui is the clinical director at the San Francisco VA medical center treating numerous patients with complicated TMJ cases. To schedule an appointment call 415-781-1944 or book a convenient appointment online.