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How Long Do TMJ Disorders Last?

February 22, 2024

TMJ disorders can vary widely in duration, depending on various factors such as the severity of the condition, underlying causes, and effectiveness of treatment. In many cases, TMJ symptoms may come and go, with episodes of discomfort lasting for a few weeks to several months. However, for some individuals, TMJ issues can persist for years if left untreated.

TMJ disorders encompass a range of conditions affecting the temporomandibular joint and surrounding muscles, which facilitate jaw movement and function. Symptoms may include pain or tenderness in the jaw joint area, difficulty chewing or opening the mouth fully, clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw, and even locking of the jaw in severe cases.

What Causes TMJ Pain and Discomfort?

TMJ pain and discomfort can stem from a variety of factors, each contributing to dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint. Understanding these underlying causes is essential for developing an appropriate treatment plan tailored to address individual needs and alleviate symptoms effectively.

Jaw Injuries:

 Trauma to the jaw, such as a blow or impact, can lead to TMJ disorders by damaging the joint or surrounding structures.


Various forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can affect the temporomandibular joint, leading to inflammation, pain, and stiffness.

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism):

Habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth, often occurring during sleep, can put excessive strain on the jaw muscles and joints, contributing to TMJ dysfunction.

Misalignment of the Jaw or Teeth:

An improper bite or misalignment of the jaw can place uneven pressure on the temporomandibular joint, leading to discomfort and dysfunction.


Emotional stress and tension can manifest physically, leading to increased muscle tension in the jaw and exacerbating TMJ symptoms.

Poor Posture:

 Poor posture, especially when sitting or standing for prolonged periods, can affect the alignment of the spine and jaw, contributing to TMJ issues.


Certain habits, like chewing gum excessively or biting nails, can put strain on the jaw joint and exacerbate TMJ dysfunction over time.

Identifying and addressing these contributing factors is crucial for effectively managing TMJ pain and discomfort and preventing the recurrence of symptoms.

What Happens If TMJ Is Not Treated?

If left untreated, TMJ disorders can lead to worsening symptoms and potentially result in chronic pain, restricted jaw movement, and even deterioration of the temporomandibular joint. Additionally, persistent TMJ issues may impact oral health, causing problems with chewing, speaking, and overall quality of life.

Chronic Pain:

Untreated TMJ disorders can result in persistent pain or discomfort in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, significantly impacting daily activities and quality of life.

Restricted Jaw Movement:

Over time, TMJ dysfunction can lead to limited mobility of the jaw, making it difficult to open or close the mouth fully, chew food comfortably, or speak properly.

Joint Degeneration:

Without intervention, TMJ disorders may progress, causing degeneration of the temporomandibular joint and potentially leading to more severe complications such as osteoarthritis or structural damage.

Oral Health Complications:

TMJ issues can interfere with proper dental occlusion (bite alignment), leading to problems with chewing, increased tooth wear, and even dental misalignment or malocclusion.

Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms and causes of TMJ dysfunction encompass various signs and underlying factors contributing to jaw pain and discomfort. These may include jaw stiffness, clicking sounds, headaches, earaches, and difficulty chewing. Causes can range from jaw injuries and arthritis to teeth grinding and jaw misalignment. Understanding these symptoms and their underlying causes is crucial for diagnosis and effective management of TMJ disorders.

What are the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction?

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw
  • Locking of the jaw joint
  • Headaches or earaches
  • Facial pain or discomfort

What are the complications of TMJ dysfunction?

  • Chronic pain
  • Limited jaw movement
  • Tooth wear or damage
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Emotional distress

Diagnosis and Tests

To diagnose TMJ dysfunction, a healthcare provider may perform a physical examination, review medical history, and order imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans. Additionally, they may refer the patient to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

Management and Treatment

Treatment options for TMJ disorders may include lifestyle modifications, pain management strategies, physical therapy, orthodontic treatment, or, in severe cases, surgery. A multidisciplinary approach involving dental professionals, physical therapists, and other specialists may be necessary to address individual needs effectively.


While not all TMJ disorders can be prevented, adopting healthy habits such as practicing good posture, avoiding excessive jaw movement, managing stress, and wearing a mouthguard during sports or activities that may cause jaw injury can help reduce the risk.

Home-Care Remedies

Several self-care strategies can help alleviate TMJ disorder symptoms. These include applying ice packs or moist heat to the jaw area to reduce pain and inflammation, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation to alleviate stress-related jaw clenching or teeth grinding, and avoiding hard or chewy foods that can exacerbate symptoms. Additionally, gentle jaw exercises and stretches recommended by a healthcare professional can help improve jaw mobility and reduce tension. Maintaining good posture, especially when sitting or working at a desk, can also help prevent strain on the jaw joints. Additionally, over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications may provide temporary relief from discomfort. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment regimen to ensure it's appropriate for individual needs.

Treatment At A Dental Clinic

Various interventions can be undertaken to address TMJ disorders and alleviate associated symptoms. These may include bite adjustments to correct misalignments, the fabrication of customized dental splints or orthotic devices to reposition the jaw, and dental procedures like crowns or bridges to address underlying dental issues. Additionally, dentists provide education and counseling on proper oral habits and lifestyle modifications to manage TMJ-related discomfort. For complex cases, dentists may refer patients to specialists such as oral surgeons or physical therapists. Overall, dentists play a crucial role in developing personalized treatment plans to improve jaw function and alleviate TMJ symptoms.

Schedule a Consultation

If you're experiencing persistent TMJ symptoms, schedule a consultation with Quality Sleep Solutions in South Carolina today. Our experienced team specializes in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders, helping you find relief and regain optimal oral health. Contact us to book your appointment and take the first step toward a healthier, pain-free smile.

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