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Common Complications of the Temporomandibular Joint

January 31, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — oxforddental @ 4:17 am

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are prevalent, primarily due to the complex structure of the joint. This joint connects your jaw to the sides of your skull, and it facilitates the various movements of your lower jaw, allowing you to eat, talk, yawn, sing, etc.

It is estimated that at least five percent of the population suffers from TMJ complications at least once in their lifetime. With that said, here’s a look at some of the common complications of the TMJ that you need to be aware of.

Chronic Pain

Pain is usually the first sign that you have a problem with your temporomandibular joint. Dysfunction of the TMJ can result in various types of discomfort, including:

  • Headaches
  • Toothaches
  • Facial pain

This pain may also affect your neck, ears, and shoulders. Many people with a dysfunctional TMJ struggle with chronic pain. They have to endure debilitating pain virtually every day.

In case you have chronic pain as a result of TMJ disorder, the disorder must be treated to eliminate the pain completely.

Muscle Problems

Several issues can result in tightness and discomfort of the muscles responsible for your jaw movements. These issues include:

  • Teeth clenching and grinding
  • Neck or head injuries
  • Opening your jaw too widely
  • Sleep disorders
  • Emotional stress

There are several ways to deal with muscle complications, including:

  • Avoiding opening your mouth too wide
  • Wearing a mouth guard to protect your teeth from the effects of clenching and grinding
  • Eating soft foods to ease the pressure on your jaws and help them recover
  • Physical therapy
  • Stress management
  • Use of muscle-relaxants

Sometimes all you might need is over-the-counter pain relievers to relieve your pain. 

Dental Complications

When you have TMJ disorder, you’ll generally alter your bite, consequently placing your teeth and jaw in an abnormal position. This can lead to additional stress on your teeth when you’re biting something. It may also result in orthodontic complications and bruxism.

Over time, the stress that TMJ disorder exerts on your teeth will make you have thinner, weaker enamel. Consequently, your risk of developing dental complications like tooth decay and infection will increase significantly.

You should have your TMJ disorder treated in time, so you can maintain strong and healthy teeth and minimize the risk of dental complications.


Arthritis is another common complication associated with TMJ disorder. It is believed that arthritis can affect the temporomandibular joint since the cartilage is relatively weak. Nonetheless, arthritis mainly occurs due to a deformed or missing disc.

There are several ways to treat osteoarthritis of the TMJ, including:

  • Resting your jaw
  • Use of analgesics to ease the pain
  • Use of splint to loosen up the tight muscles

These remedies may help alleviate the symptoms, but you may still have a hard time opening your mouth. If rheumatoid arthritis affects your TMJ, the condition can be treated with the same rheumatoid drugs that are used to treat other joints. You may also need to use NSAIDs to ease the pain.

Your dentist may also recommend physical therapy to help restore the normal movements of your TMJ.

In Summary

Several complications can affect temporomandibular joint largely due to the complexity of its structure. These may include chronic pain, muscle complications, dental issues, and arthritis. Once the correct diagnosis has been made, you will undergo treatment. Treatment for TMJ complications includes physical therapy, pain relievers, stress management, and correction of alignment of the TMJ. All of these remedies are geared toward the relief of the discomfort caused by the complication and treatment of various factors that cause the complication.

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