What Happens if TMJ Is Left Untreated?

Team TMJ

When TMJ disorder (TMD) is left untreated, it can have far-reaching consequences throughout the body. Although TMD begins in the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), when these joints become dysfunctional, it typically results in chronic pain that affects your quality of life. A personalized treatment plan is critical for TMD because the only way to achieve lasting relief is to understand and address the root cause of the disorder. When TMJ disorder isn’t treated, it can lead to the following issues:

Chronic Jaw Pain and Joint Damage

When you first notice TMJ disorder symptoms, they are likely to be minor annoyances brought on by stress, eating tough or chewy foods, or opening your mouth too wide. While your jaw joints cause you pain, it's not unbearable, and your symptoms come and go.

The temporomandibular joints may deteriorate as TMD progresses, resulting in chronic pain and other bothersome joint symptoms such as jaw popping, cracking, and locking. As a result of this jaw joint dysfunction, you may suffer tenderness and pain in your face, neck, and shoulders.

Eventually, TMJ surgery may be necessary if the bones in your temporomandibular joints have degenerated to the point where they no longer function properly. You can avoid surgery if you take a proactive approach to TMD treatment, rather than waiting for the pain to become debilitating.

Compromised Oral Health

Teeth grinding and jaw clenching, also known as bruxism, are among the most common causes of TMD. These habits can wear down your tooth enamel over time, making your teeth prone to fractures and leading to gum recession. TMJ disorder can cause asymmetrical muscle growth and abnormal tooth wear, which can change your facial appearance and lead to additional dental problems.


Tension headaches and migraines are frequently caused by TMJ disorder. Aside from jaw pain, headaches are one of the most common symptoms of TMD. Chronic joint dysfunction and inflammation can cause headaches that are so severe that they interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily activities. A doctor may prescribe a medication to treat your migraines, but once the drug wears off, your headaches will return since the underlying joint dysfunction that is causing them has not been addressed.

Ear and Hearing Issues

Because the temporomandibular joints are close to the ear canals, TMD symptoms frequently manifest in the ears. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can make it difficult for you to sleep and focus, and feelings of fullness or pain in the ears are also symptoms of TMJ dysfunction. Because the inner ears are linked to our sense of balance, dizziness, vertigo, and unsteadiness can result when the muscles around the TMJ become inflamed.

Learn More About TMJ Disorder

Do you have TMJ pain? Or have you been diagnosed with TMJ disorder, but you have yet to find a treatment that works? Prosthodontists are specialists in diagnosing and treating TMJ pain. Contact us today at 772.286.1606 to learn more or schedule a consultation at Stuart Prosthetic Dentistry.