Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located on either side of your face, connecting your jaw to your skull. It allows you to perform simple movements needed for everyday life, like chewing and speaking. You probably never spent too much time thinking about the joint until it started giving you problems. Clicking, popping, and recurring jaw pain are common signs of TMJ disorder. Although the symptoms may not seem too alarming, TMJ pain can turn into a big problem quickly. Here are 5 risks of not treating TMD.
Dangers of Untreated TMD
TMD can cause a variety of symptoms, most notably tenderness of the jaw, face, neck, and shoulders. It’s not uncommon to hear clicking or popping sounds when chewing. The jaw can even lock into an opened or closed position. Unfortunately, complications aren’t limited to the joint. Although the disorder isn’t life-threatening, it can harm your quality of life in many ways, including:
1. Poor Sleep Quality
A bad mattress isn’t the only reason people toss and turn at night. 50% of patients with TMD lose sleep from pain and stress caused by the disorder. It can be difficult to fall or stay asleep. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to daily fatigue, moodiness, loss of concentration, and memory loss.
2. Tooth Damage
Your enamel is the hardest substance in your body, but it isn’t indestructible. Unfortunately, it can’t regenerate once it is lost. Tooth decay isn’t the only culprit behind enamel loss. TMD is often linked to bruxism, a subconscious habit of grinding and clenching the teeth. The constant pressure and friction can wear away your enamel, increasing your risk of tooth sensitivity, loose teeth, and even tooth loss.
3. Asymmetrical Muscle Growth
Pain located on one side of the face can cause the muscles to grow unevenly. Chewing on one side can also lead to imbalances and weaker muscle tone.
If jaw pain isn’t keeping you awake at night, a persistent ringing can also cause you to lose sleep. Chronic jaw pain is connected to tinnitus. Although it may only seem like a nuisance, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and memory problems are linked to tinnitus.
5. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea causes frequent pauses in breathing while sleeping. It is caused by an obstruction created by the soft tissues in the back of the mouth. As TMD progresses, it can push the jaw further back, obstructing the airway. Sleep apnea is linked to several serious health issues, including heart disease and diabetes.
You can eliminate the dangers of TMD with a personalized treatment plan from your dentist. They have the solutions you need with TMJ therapy.
About Dr. Keane Fedosky
Dr. Fedosky earned his dental degree from the Baylor College of Dentistry and has completed advanced training in oral appliance therapy. With over 20 years of experience in dentistry, he can stop your jaw pain and improve your quality of life. Contact our office today to request your consultation for TMD relief.