TMJ can be treatable for many people. However, the treatment success is much better if you get treatment early. Unfortunately, many people don’t get their TMJ treated early.
Why don’t people seek treatment early? Because some early symptoms may not seem serious, people have a tendency to ignore them until they become very serious.
Here are some symptoms you might be ignoring that should prompt you to get treatment for your TMJ.
Jaw Clicking or Popping
It’s easy to think jaw clicking or popping isn’t a very serious problem. It happens, but it may not be especially painful--especially the more it happens--and your jaw keeps functioning, so you ignore the symptom.
But this is a sign that your TMJ could be serious. The popping and clicking is caused by the displacement of the cushioning disc in the jaw joint. When that disc is moved out of place, the bones don’t have the cushion necessary to protect them during normal function. Instead, the ligament that’s supposed to hold the disc in place is being subjected to damaging pressure, which means it may lose its ability to pull the disc back in place, which will lead to more bone damage.
Responding to this symptom early means that you will protect your jaw joint from too much damage and may be able to avoid treatments like surgery.
You also want to talk to a TMJ dentist if your clicking or popping stops. This may be a sign that your disc isn’t going back in place, and it may lead to your jaw locking.
Limited Jaw Opening
People have a tendency to ignore this symptom if it’s not too bad. If you can manage to open your jaw wide enough to speak at a normal volume and eat, then you might think it’s not a big deal. But it can be.
This is another symptom caused by displacement of the cushioning disc. It may occur after the clicking or popping has stopped. And it’s often a sign that your jaw will start locking.
Jaw locking is a serious symptom that doesn’t just make people panic, it may be a sign that your joints have become badly damaged. Once jaw locking occurs, surgery may be required to treat TMJ.
Tooth wear can be insidious. It might happen a little bit at the time, making it hard to notice. But, over time, you might be able to tell that your central incisors are losing their additional length, becoming even with the lateral incisors. You may also notice that some of your teeth are developing craze lines: tiny vertical cracks that seem harmless at first, but can become problematic.
Many people ignore tooth wear because they don’t notice it or imagine it’s common. Tooth wear is common, but TMJ-related tooth wear can be serious. And it can change dramatically: one day you’ll have minor tooth wear, and the next you might experience serious cracking and chipping of teeth.
As this progresses, it increases the chances that you might need a full mouth reconstruction for your teeth.
Don’t Ignore TMJ
The key lesson we hope to convey is that if you are experiencing TMJ symptoms, it’s important for you to get treatment. Don’t wait until the symptoms become so serious that you have to seek treatment. With early treatment you may be able to avoid serious symptoms.