We’ve noticed that quite a few misconceptions are going around about TMJ disorder. Maybe you have TMJ, or perhaps a loved one does, but either way, we know how important it is for you to be informed and “in the know” about this disorder, its symptoms, and consequences if left untreated. Or perhaps you think you might have TMJ and are afraid to see a doctor due to the fear of what they might say. At Burkburnett Family Dental, we understand that a new diagnosis can be scary, but don’t let these myths keep you from getting the treatment you need.

woman with TMJ jaw pain looks in the mirror

Surgery is the only treatment

The first thing many people think when they hear TMJ disorder is jaw surgery and avoid going to the doctor altogether. While some doctors might recommend surgery, it is not the only treatment, and it’s not even the best treatment.

Treatment for TMJ can look like physical therapy with a TENS machine, an oral appliance or bite splint, or full mouth reconstruction.

Physical Therapy with TENS: This is temporary and primarily used to find your optimal jaw position in preparation for your bite split—but it does relieve pain.

Oral Appliance: Sometimes, these are called bite splints. It’s an appliance you wear in your mouth 24 hours per day that teaches your jaw to reside in the proper position. After some time, you may be able only to wear it at night, but we’ll often recommend a full mouth reconstruction as the final, permanent solution.

Full Mouth Reconstruction: We use a series of dental treatments to move your teeth and jaw into the correct position. This could look like orthodontics, dental crowns, dental veneers, or finally replacing those missing teeth, so your jaw doesn’t fall out of place.

TMJ disorder is rare

Unfortunately, TMJ disorder is not rare. Some estimates still say that over 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorder. No one wants to believe that they have a medical problem, but just know that you aren’t alone. Many people have it, have sought treatment, and live a better life for it. If you are concerned that you have TMJ disorder, don’t let the pain rule your life.

If my jaw doesn’t pop, I don’t have TMJ

Jaw popping is but one of the symptoms of TMJ disorder. Many people experience it, but some don’t. Not having jaw popping doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Consider your other symptoms. Do you have frequent headaches or migraines? A sore jaw, neck, and shoulders? Or maybe you’re feeling vertigo and tingling in your fingers? Do you have a limited mouth opening? These are not the complete list of symptoms, but they’re pretty standard in those who suffer from TMJ disorder. If you have multiple TMJ symptoms, but your jaw doesn’t pop, you should get an evaluation from a TMJ dentist anyway.

My jaw has never locked, so I don’t have TMJ

Lock-jaw is an extremely frightening symptom that people with severe TMJ can experience. Your jaw can lock close or open and won’t resolve unless you have help from a doctor. Just because you haven’t gotten a locked jaw doesn’t mean you don’t have TMJ. Your TMJ could be less severe, or maybe it hasn’t happened yet. Either way, it’s important to get tested for the jaw disorder.

If you experience a locked jaw, don’t try to remedy the situation yourself. Head to a professional who can unlock your jaw without causing jaw damage.

TMJ pain will go away if you rest your jaw enough

Sometimes this is true. If you are in a stressful situation that is soon to pass or have experienced trauma, your TMJ will go away with rest. In other cases where your jaw is out of alignment, your pain won’t go away unless you get treated. The only way to know what type of TMJ you have is to get an evaluation. If your pain has persisted for 7 days or more, make an appointment with Dr. Kyle Clark.

TMJ is caused by teeth grinding

TMJ can be caused by teeth grinding, but it’s not the only reason your jaw might be out of alignment. Other possible causes are

  • Jaw dislocation
  • Stress
  • Arthritis in the jaw
  • Trauma
  • An improper bite

TMJ only affects your jaw

While your temporomandibular joint is where your pain originates, it affects more than just your jaw. The pain can radiate to your shoulders, neck, and back. You can get headaches and migraines. You might feel tingling in your fingers or ringing in your ears. You may not be able to sleep, and you might develop anxiety and depression from chronic pain.

Besides those effects of TMJ disorder, other aspects of your life could suffer. You may not feel well enough to take care of your responsibilities, participate socially or in family life, and your professional life could suffer because you keep missing work.

TMJ is not a disorder to be left untreated.

TMJ isn’t a severe condition

In addition to the effects TMJ has besides jaw pain, your TMJ could cause permanent joint damage and the development of obstructive sleep apnea. You’ll want to get it treated as soon as you can.

Treat Your TMJ in Burkburnett, Texas

If you think you might have TMJ disorder, make an appointment with Dr. Kyle Clark in Burkburnett. He’ll perform an exam to determine if you have TMJ. He’ll customize a treatment plan that’ll work for you and your budget if you do. Call today or make an appointment online.