Temporomandibular joint disorders (called TMJ or TMD) are common. Nearly a third of all adults experience them at some time. While most cases of TMJ resolve on their own without professional treatment, if your TMJ is persistent or recurring, you should seek treatment. Here are five great reasons why you shouldn’t wait to get TMJ treatment.
Untreated TMJ Can Worsen
TMJ is a progressive condition. This means that it will get worse over time, and as it gets worse, your treatment options narrow.
Early TMJ symptoms might seem like a nuisance. You might have a popping jaw and irregular jaw motion. Perhaps your jaw muscles hurt occasionally. You might hear odd sounds when you chew, talk, or just move your jaw. Later, your jaw joint might grind. Your jaw might even lock open or closed, which can be a very alarming situation. Jaw pain gets more intense and more constant. Ringing in your ears can get louder and more disruptive.
When detected and treated early, we can use noninvasive methods to slow, stop, or even reverse the condition. This treatment can be very successful, and it’s easy to do. However, the longer TMJ goes untreated, the more damage it might do to the jaw joint. Eventually, surgery might be the best treatment option. TMJ surgery is unreliable, can be very painful, and may require extensive downtime.
Save Your Teeth from Trauma and Wear
TMJ doesn’t just damage your jaw. It can put excessive pressure on your teeth. This can be in the form of clenching and grinding or in an unbalanced bite that comes down harder on one side of your mouth than the other.
No matter what form it takes, this excessive pressure can lead to chipped, cracked, and badly worn teeth. This means that after we treat TMJ, we will have to deal with the damage to your teeth. This might require cosmetic dentistry treatments like porcelain veneers for wear and chips. Cracked teeth might benefit from dental crowns, sometimes after root canal therapy. In some cases, these badly cracked or worn teeth cannot be saved. We will have to extract them and replace them with a dental implant or denture.
Eat Healthier and More Enjoyable Foods
Because TMJ makes it hard to chew, people often give up the foods that give them trouble. While eating soft foods temporarily to ease short-term TMJ symptoms is reasonable, giving up on challenging foods over the long term can badly affect your quality of life. It can even affect your health.
Common foods that people give up because of TMJ include hard foods like popcorn and chips. They might also give up foods that require them to open their mouth wide, like burgers and other sandwiches. Hard-to-chew breads like crusty pizza, bagels, and hard rolls also get set aside.
People may give up many healthy foods that are hard to chew. This includes steak and other unprocessed meats. Raw vegetables full of nutrition like carrots and kale may also be cut out of the diet. Instead, people tend to eat more processed foods full of salt, fat, and sugar. Over the long term, this can lead to weight gain and malnutrition.
TMJ treatment lets you add back all the foods you love as well as those that give you vital nutrition.
Resolve Symptoms You Didn’t Know Were Related
One of the things most people don’t know about TMJ is how many symptoms it can cause. It’s not just jaw pain or jaw sounds, TMJ might be responsible for your recurring headaches. So-called sinus headaches are often TMJ-related. Migraines are also commonly related to TMJ. It might be the reason why you get dizzy spells. It could be behind your sore neck, your back pain, even the tingling and numbness in your fingers.
Check out the more complete list of TMJ symptoms on our TMJ treatment page. If you have multiple symptoms from the list, you will be happy to see them reduced or eliminated with TMJ treatment.
Deal with Related Conditions Like Sleep Apnea
Another concern about TMJ is that it often goes along with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing stops, forcing you to wake up slightly to resume breathing. This might happen hundreds of times a night, even though you might not know it.
Consequences of sleep apnea include an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and falling asleep behind the wheel. This makes sleep apnea potentially deadly, and it’s important to diagnose. When we assess your jaw, we might notice that your jaw position or anatomy might put you at risk for sleep apnea. Then we’ll ask you about potential sleep apnea symptoms and let you know if you should get a sleep test to diagnose the condition.
Effective TMJ Treatment in Aberdeen
Do you think you might have TMJ? Have you been suffering with symptoms long enough and are ready to get relief? If so, then TMJ dentist Mandy Grimshaw at Kuhn Dental can help. Please call (910) 692-4450 or use our online contact form today to request an appointment at Kuhn Dental Associates in Aberdeen, NC.