Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can affect the joints that connect your upper and lower jaw, making jaw movements uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. Many TMJ disorders are the result of undue pressure on the joint. Depending on what’s causing this pressure, your TMJ may be permanent or temporary.
How long do problems with the TMJ last? Here’s what you can expect based on the cause of your TMJ problems as determined by a dentist.
If the Cause Is Genetic
For some people, the cause of their issues with the TMJ are genetic. Everyone has a differently shaped mouth and jaw, and for some people, these shapes just don’t fit well together. For some of these patients, surgery or orthodontics may be able to remedy the problem. For others, their TMJ pain won’t be able to be cured, but managed, making TMJ last a lifetime.
Only a professional dentist can determine the cause of your TMJ disorder, so don’t attempt to self-diagnose in an effort to treat your pain at home. With the right diagnosis, you’ll receive the right treatment!
If the Cause Is Malocclusion
Malocclusion, an improper bite, can cause problems with the TMJ. A malocclusion could include an overbite, underbite, crossbite, or open bite. Fortunately, simple orthodontics can treat the majority of cases in these bites. For some severe cases, surgery may be needed, but for most, braces can help alleviate TMJ pain.
If your dentist suspects you’re suffering from TMJ pain as a result of an improper bite, he or she can refer you to an orthodontist who can further evaluate the problem and discuss a treatment plan with you to permanently fix your TMJ discomfort.
If the Cause Is Stress
For still some other patients, a combination of problems will cause their TMJ disorder. Some patients have recurring TMJ pain due to stress. In cases like these, TMJ is likely temporary, especially if there is no additional underlying cause to be found.
If your dentist isn’t finding an additional cause, stress management techniques can help you reduce any stiffness, soreness, or tension that you’re experiencing as a result of problems with your TMJ. Stress management techniques may be different for different people, with the most common being relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, therapy, and exercise.
There are other causes of TMJ disorders, including teeth grinding, which is also referred to as bruxism. Bruxism can absolutely be treated which can help alleviate stress on your TMJ. The exact cause of your TMJ disorder may be a combination of causes, so working with a professional gives you your best chance to help alleviate your pain.
Are you experiencing TMJ pain and are afraid it will last for life? For many people, their TMJ pain is treatable if not curable. Visiting your dentist is the first step in identifying what is causing your TMJ discomfort and what your treatment steps should be. Seeking help for your TMJ pain sooner rather than later can help you avoid unnecessary pain and stress!