What Happens if TMJ Is Left Untreated?

What Happens if TMJ Is Left Untreated?


It is not uncommon for the intermittent pain that comes with TMJ disorder to be dismissed. It may hurt for a short time, but then life goes back to normal. So how serious can it really be, right?  Unfortunately, this mindset often leads patients to believe that TMJ disorder isn’t bad enough to warrant treatment. After all, life’s to-do list can often be long - and taking the time to seek treatment doesn’t seem like a priority. 

If you are suffering from TMJ disorder, treatment should always be sought. If left untreated, here’s what may happen: 

Damage to the Temporomandibular Joint

When you feel pain in your temporomandibular joint, know that it is trying to get your attention. If you hurt your ankle or wrist, there is a good chance that you’d go get it checked out to make sure it isn’t broken, sprained, and so forth. Often, the doctor will recommend using a sprint to give the joint rest. 

When it comes to TMJ disorder, dentists can treat the ailing joint by using an oral appliance to give it rest. And, in turn, allow it to heal. This is one of the first steps in treatment for this disorder. 

Decreased Oral Health 

TMJ disorder impacts your overall oral health - especially since it is in direct relation to bruxism. The constant clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth can lead to dental issues such as receding gums, weakened teeth, cracks in the teeth, and more. All of these can lead to greater dental issues in the future. 

By treating TMJ disorder, you can maintain strong oral health for many years to come. 

Chronic Joint Pain

Regardless of where it is in the body, nobody likes chronic joint pain. This is definitely the case when it comes to the temporomandibular joint. The intermittent pain you may be experiencing from time to time may not be bothersome now, but it will eventually become more frequent and stronger. This will often turn into chronic pain. 

Frequent Headaches

TMJ pain can cause headaches. For some, they can become very debilitating, increasing in both frequency and pain as time moves on. What may seem like a regular headache today may turn into a more chronic headache tomorrow. 

Seeking treatment for TMJ disorder can remove the cause of your headaches. 

Difficulty Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleeping well is hard to do when you are experiencing pain and discomfort. Because TMJ disorder is often caused or exacerbated by teeth grinding (which occurs mostly at night), restless sleep is often the result.

Quality sleep is necessary to wake up feeling refreshed. By wearing an oral appliance while you sleep, you can reduce the incidence of bruxism and have a good night’s sleep.

Overall Poor Quality of Life

Frequent pain and poor quality sleep can lead to an overall poor quality of life. This may mean missed work, less desire to hang out socially, and a constant feeling of being tired. None of this is healthy for your mind or your body. But as the pain progresses due to lack of treatment, life quality will continue to decline. 

Just another reason to have your TMJ examined by a dentist. 

Seek Treatment for TMJ Disorder 

At San Francisco Dental Wellness, our team understands the importance of feeling good - and that means treating TMJ disorder before the symptoms get worse. Don’t put your pain off any longer. 

Dr. Chris Chui is the clinical director at the San Francisco VA medical center treating numerous patients with complicated TMJ cases. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at 415-781-1944. Or, request an appointment online.