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Complications of Untreated TMD

Complications of Untreated TMD

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are painful issues that affect your jaw and face. This joint is important, as it allows your jaw to move so you can talk and chew. TMD can be severe, resulting in life-long issues if left untreated.

At the Snoring & Sleep Apnea Center, we help you when you’re suffering from TMD. Dr. Katharine Christian and her team perform diagnostic testing to determine the severity of your joint problem and provide customized treatments to help you avoid complications from untreated TMD.

What is TMD?

TMD is a term used to describe damage or dysfunction in your temporomandibular joint. This joint is located at the point where your jaw meets your skull, one on each side of your face. The joints are responsible for your ability to open and close your mouth and move your jaw side-to-side.

Like any other joint in your body, your TMJ is protected by cartilage. It also houses a tiny disc that acts as a shock absorber in the joint. However, the protective cartilage and disc can wear down, causing pain and other symptoms.

It’s often hard to determine what exactly causes the dysfunction in your joint. Damage to the joint from arthritis or a direct injury are just a few of the reasons you could be dealing with TMD. 

Certain risk factors make you more susceptible to TMD, including teeth clenching or grinding, stress, or a misaligned bite. These issues don’t guarantee that you’ll get TMD, but they do significantly increase your risk.

Understanding the symptoms

You can experience a lot of pain when you suffer from TMD. The facial pain is one of the signs of TMD, along with other symptoms that include:

In severe cases, your jaw may also lock in an open position. It could also lock closed, making it impossible to open your mouth without medical intervention.

Your bite, or the way your top and bottom teeth fit together, may also change. This is due to the damage that occurs in the temporomandibular joint.

Complications of TMD

If you think you have TMD, it’s important that you seek treatment at the first sign of trouble. The longer the condition goes untreated, the more complications that can pop up. Dr. Christian performs an evaluation of your symptoms and offers fast and effective care so you can avoid issues down the road.

Trying to live with TMD without medical treatment could end up causing more problems than just pain. Some of the complications related to untreated TMD include:

Chronic pain

The longer your joint damage goes untreated, the more damage it sustains. This often causes chronic pain and inflammation in your jaw and facial pain. 

Teeth erosion

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is one of the causes of TMJ problems. When you don’t get treatment for bruxism, it causes your teeth to wear down, leading to dental issues and erosion of your teeth.


Your pain may make it difficult for you to sleep at night.

Losing out on things you love

Chronic TMD significantly affects your day-to-day life. For instance, you might not be able to play your favorite musical instrument because of the pain. Your food may also be limited, meaning you can’t take a big bite out of your favorite triple-stacked sandwich.

Depression or anxiety

The long-term effects of TMD take their toll on your mental health as well. Untreated chronic pain and sleep disruptions often lead to depression and anxiety.

The sooner you get treatment for your TMD symptoms, the less likely it is that you’ll develop serious, long-term complications. Dr. Christian offers treatments such as medications and oral appliance therapy to protect your joint.

Don’t continue to suffer from TMD. Call our office in Seattle, Washington, today at 206-905-6998, or request an appointment using our online booking tool. Dr. Christian also provides telehealth consultations and appointments.

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