Jaw pain can be so unbearable that it impacts your work, sleep, and overall quality of life. In some cases, this pain might be temporary, but you may find that the condition has become persistent. If not addressed, your symptoms can worsen and potentially lead to some long-term effects that are even more unpleasant.
What is TMJ vs TMD? Are they the same? Your body’s temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jaw to the temporal bone on the side of your head. When you experience pain in this area, some might refer to it as “TMJ,” but it is really a Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), which refers to a group of joint disorders.
Some of the factors that can play a role in developing TMD include trauma to the neck or jaw, muscle tension, arthritis in the joint, bite problems, and poor oral habits. For many, the discomfort associated with TMD will fluctuate over time, but there is a chance that long-term issues can develop.
Long-Term Effects of Jaw Pain What might have started as an inconvenience could turn into a long-term issue that makes many aspects of daily life difficult, if not impossible. If not addressed, jaw pain from TMD can have a variety of unpleasant long-term effects.
Migraine Headaches. TMDs have been linked to several types of severe headaches, including migraines. Often with these disorders, there is a misalignment in the joint that connects that jaw to the skull. As they try to compensate, the muscles in the jaw, neck, face, and other parts of the body become stressed and otherwise fatigued. This can lead to debilitating chronic headaches.
Neck, Back, and Shoulder Discomfort. Jaw pain can lead to significant discomfort in other areas of your body. A small misalignment in the jaw will have an impact on other muscle groups, leading to fatigue in the shoulders, neck, back, and even hips. Over time, this leads to alignment issues throughout the body.
Hearing Loss or Damage. Your jaw is connected to the skull near your ear canal. When the muscles in charge of opening and closing your jaw become inflamed, this can have far-reaching effects on your ear canal as well. What may seem like an ear infection could instead be tinnitus caused by TMD or other hearing loss.
Depression and Anxiety. The pain and other long-term effects associated with constant jaw pain can lead to a sense of helplessness. You may feel anxious and depressed as symptoms interfere with work and everyday living.
Dependence on Coping Mechanisms. People who suffer from chronic discomfort and pain sometimes attempt to manage and self-medicate these symptoms through drug and alcohol use. This can lead to even more long-term health issues while still not addressing the cause of the problem.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have jaw pain that is impacting your sleep and daily activities, it’s time to get some help. Contact HollowBrook Dental today to schedule a free consultation and learn how you can find relief from constant jaw pain.