Does TMJ Go Away?
Does TMJ go away is a question many who have it ask. It’s a great question with as many answers as stars in the sky. It’s one of those questions usually answered by, “Well, it depends!” Broken bones heal over time if set correctly. TMJ pain is different from broken bones. Why the pain doesn’t go away over time, is extremely frustrating with few places to turn for help. TMJ is a functional problem in which the body responds in many ways. If the gears in your car were misaligned, which is a functional problem, would the issue go away on its own? No, it wouldn’t, but gears in a vehicle is not living structure.
Going back to the “It depends” response to the question, does TMJ go away, it depends on what is causing your TMD/TMJ. Stress plays a major role in TMJ disfunction. In asking patients if they have or had TMJ, many times the answer is that they used to until they got a divorce, got a new job, etc. So yes, if stress it the cause of pain, remove the stress and you remove the pain. Stress can cause one to grit, grind, and clench the teeth. Grinding and gritting is biblical. To quote OpenChat AI: “In the Old Testament, the phrase “gnashing of teeth” is used to describe a state of intense anger or frustration. For an example, in the book of Job, it is written, “They gnash their teeth at me in their anger; they gnash their teeth at me in their fury.” It goes on to say, “Overall, the phrase “gnashing of teeth” is used in the Bible to describe a range of intense emotional states, including anger, frustration, and despair, often in the context of judgement or punishment.” Did people thousands of years ago have TMJ disfunction? Did the TMJ go away on its own? No one can answer either question, but they are interesting and valid for this discussion.
TMJ Treatment: Will It Go Away?
Dentistry is the main profession to treat TMJ disfunction. There are certain disciplines of dentists who work with psychologist with the goal of helping the TMJ patient self-analyze their level of stress. They claim to have success to a certain degree with patients who fit into this stress/emotional cause of TMJ pain. If stress is the number one reason for TMJ pain, then thepain could go away with proper lifestyle changes and assessments.Finding dentists who understand this and whohave a psychologist to work with are few in number.
TMJ disfunction creates signs and symptoms. A sign is something that is nonpainful such as clicking joints, tooth wear, tooth breakage, problems opening the mouth, etc. Symptoms usually involve pain. The pain can occur anywhere in the head/ear/neck and the joint itself. These signs and symptoms occur in a living body can adapt while gears in an automobile cannot. Signs and symptoms are caused my misalignment of the relationship between upper and lower jaw, teeth, joint, and the associated muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia of the head and neck. Just because one is out of pain, doesn’t mean they don’t suffer from TMJ disfunction. Making the claim that TMJ goes away becomes a complicated.
Another common issue of TMJ disfunction is clicking of the joints. The clicks can come and go, be constant, slightly heard, heard across the room, and can be non-painful or extremely painful. To understand clicks, it is important to understand joint anatomy. The joint is composed of the condyle, an articulating disc, ligaments, tendons, and fascia, which all fit within a depression in the temporal bone of the skull. In a normal joint, the disc, shaped somewhat like a life-saver candy, sits on top of the condyle with the purpose of helping the joint slide more efficiently. In a clicking joint, the disc is off the condyle. A dislocated disc can be infront of the condyle, to either right or left, or behind the condyle.
There are different classifications of clicks, with early and late being the most common. Early clicks occur on the beginning opening and late clicks occur when opened wider. They are important in asking the question does TMJ go away. An early click simply means the disc is barely off the condyle. On opening the condyle slides down the depression in the skull, as it slides down, the disc simply pops back on. Physical therapist and Egoscue exercises may help with early click. Does that answer the question of does TMJ go away? Maybe and maybe not, difficult question with difficult answers because it all depends! Each human is different.
TMJ disfunction treatment belongs in the hands of a qualified dentist who practices neuromuscular dentistry. TMJ disfunction is a neuromuscular disharmony issue where muscles, joints, etc. are not working in harmony. TMJ disfunction creates pain in the joint itself, the muscles of the head and neck that move the jaw, or a combination of both. The pain can be slight or so severe people go to the ER for relief.
Severe TMJ pain is not going away without the use of a neuromuscular orthotic that fits over the lower teeth. A neuromuscular orthotic lookslike a “splint” or “nightguard” but it’s function is precise and deliberate with the goal of making pain and discomfort go away. A person’s bite can be described as how the teeth fit when the jaw is totally closed. Where the teeth fit on closure determines where the jaw goes. If the jaws are misaligned in order for the teeth to come together all at once, this creates disharmony with everything involved; teeth, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Each of those structures can create TMJ pain. A neuromuscular orthotic is a plastic overlay on the bottom teeth that corrects the bite that doesn’t fit into one that does fit in harmony.
Please learn more about neuromuscular dentistry by visiting ICCMO.org.