If you have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), the pain and discomfort can be quite disheartening, painful, and an inconvenience to daily activities. Pain in the jaw joint, which is one of the most used joints in the body, can significantly affect one’s quality of life. Luckily, most jaw abnormalities heal well with proper treatment. However if you do not treat the disorder, how long will the pain and discomfort last without medical care?
Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how long a person will have TMJ pain. The pain varies from one individual to another and severity varies based on the cause and how damaged the jaw joint is. The duration of the pain can vary greatly from a couple of hours to a couple of days, or even longer. It just depends on the cause of the flare-up, the extent of jaw joint damage, and the affected person’s ability to cope with discomfort.
For mild to moderate cases of pain, you can relieve pain through hot or cold compress, gentle massage your facial muscles to increase blood flow, and over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen. Severe cases can linger for weeks and require medical attention. If left untreated for severe cases, manageable pain can turn into chronic severe pain if you do not see a dentist who treats TMJ disorder.
The tricky thing about this disorder is that many other conditions may cause symptoms like pain and discomfort, and they share the same symptoms. Self-diagnosis can be difficult without a proper medical examination. Many people suffering from TMJ pain seek treatment, and they report that the differences in their condition before and after treatment are significant. It is recommended to speak with your dentist about TMJ disorder treatment as soon as you start experiencing jaw discomfort or pain symptoms to avoid future flare-ups. When you visit your dentist for your consultation, your doctor will examine your jaw movement, bite, the muscles around your mouth and your neck and face. This will help provide a proper diagnosis on whether you have TMJ or another condition.
If you experience TMJ flare-ups, this means that your symptoms are getting worse. When a flare-up occurs, the painful symptoms can come and go, changing your quality of life. By identifying the cause of your TMJ disorder, you can shorten the time your symptoms flare-up. Some of the common symptoms include:
The jaw joint is made of connecting bones, muscles, and ligaments. Like other joints in the body, it can develop problems since bone, muscle, and ligament all need to work together and can be caused by one or more medical conditions or habits. Here are the most common causes of TMJ, along with an estimate of how long you can expect a flare-up to last:
A person might experience pain and bite problems related to a pre-existing dental problem, such as teeth grinding (bruxism). Depending on the underlying condition, pain caused by a misaligned bite can come and go, and may even last a lifetime if not treated.
If your upper and lower teeth do not meet evenly when your mouth is closed, say you have an underbite or overbite, then there is a chance that you are prone to developing TMJ disorder. An occlusal adjustment can be used to correct the alignment of the teeth so that TMJ disorder can be prevented.
Jaw-clenching and teeth grinding (commonly known as bruxism) is a major contributor to TMJ. Fortunately, it is easy to get rid of this bad habit, and once it is stopped, the pain usually goes away. By wearing a custom mouth guard at night, you can help protect your TMJ and teeth from this habit.
If your TMJ is sore and aching, a habit you may want to avoid is hard, chewy food like chewing gum or hard candy, which can cause too much wear and tear. The continuous chewing motion will put too much stress on the joints and can cause the joint to be overworked.
Certain medications for anxiety, depression, and ADHD are known to increase the likelihood of teeth clenching, which can cause or worsen TMJ. However, you shouldn’t stop taking your medication without talking it over with your doctor first. Many patients have been able to find a treatment plan that has relieved their TMJ without also sacrificing their medication.
If you experience pain in your jaw after an incident or injury that affects your head and face, it is most likely the cause. The good news is that these types of jaw pain tend to go away over time as you heal from your injury naturally. If it does not go away after some time, consult with a doctor to see what can be causing the pain.
As people age, the jaw joint deteriorates. Aging also contributes to the development of arthritis. Massaging the area can help ease pain, as well as relaxation techniques. Pain-relieving medications such as over-the-counter drugs (ibuprofen) can also help relieve swelling and pain. Other factors that can cause pain to occur as you age include:
The time it takes the TMJ to heal will vary from person to person. Some patients experiencing slight discomfort of the temporomandibular joint will usually go away in a few days without treatment. To manage a TMJ pain, simple home remedies can alleviate the symptoms with rest, hot and cold compresses, eating only soft foods, and jaw exercises. However, if you have been experiencing severe pain in any of the following TMJ symptoms, you should consider visiting a dentist and having a complete evaluation to avoid future damage to your teeth or joint. TMJ disorder is highly treatable, don’t suffer unnecessarily when treatment is available.
Chronic jaw pain is often the result of clenching and grinding of the teeth, which can be treated by avoiding this bad habit and working with a physician to develop the best course of treatment. If clenching and teeth grinding is not the cause, your dentist will conduct an exam to find the root cause of TMJ disorder.
Although TMJ treatment options depend widely on each particular case, there are various options to chose from to prevent painful flare-ups. Depending on the cause, a mouth guard or an oral appliance like a splint will provide pain relief. Another option for patients who experience TMJ pain might obtain relief by taking part in physical therapy, obtain temporary relief through pain management injections, or in severe cases, choose to undergo surgery to correct specific TMJ issues.
We understand how painful and uncomfortable TMJ flare-ups are, and we’re here to help. To find out which treatment option best fits you, we’ll conduct a comprehensive examination so we can help alleviate the pain and discomfort. If you have any questions about TMJ disorders or treatment plans, call us at 972-468-1440 today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Feng.