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Can a Jaw Injury Cause TMJ?
It is usually hard to determine the precise cause of TMJ disorder. Issues affecting the temporomandibular joint may originate from different potential causes, and ascertaining the right cause can help determine the course of treatment. Jaw injury is a common cause of TMJ disorder, but the condition does not develop immediately after the injury; in fact, it could be years after.
How jaw injury can cause TMJ disorder
TMJ is a complicated condition and many factors can contribute to it. A jaw injury can cause TMJ disorder. Another aspect is the event following the injury.
If the injury caused a situation like dislocation of the jaw joint, the body would attempt to adapt to the situation. During the adaptation process, the muscles will need to behave differently from how they used to. These changes can make it difficult for the muscles to return to their normal resting state.
The attempt to return to the rest position is what makes the muscles tense and sore, and facial pain is a common symptom of TMJ disorder. However, it is not just about the pain; the muscles could also cause teeth grinding, which may lead to severe tooth wear. The condition can put stress on the jaw joints, causing the cushioning disc in that joint to deteriorate or become permanently dislocated. The bone around the area may even start to suffer as well.
Without intervention, the muscles will keep trying to adapt, causing new symptoms to develop. Other signs of the condition may take years to appear.
Understanding the symptoms
In some cases, the symptoms may appear soon after the jaw injury, but they are often barely noticeable or hardly serious. Jaw clicking or popping, for instance, may be overlooked for years, particularly if there is no pain or the discomfort is minor.
Sometimes, the symptoms may occur intermittently. Constant jaw activity may lead to the aggravation of symptoms like ear pain, tinnitus or headache. However, if the patient decides to rest and resort to a soft diet, the symptoms disappear again.
Some situations might push a patient to realize the severity of the symptoms and the need for professional attention. After a couple of recurrences, they might realize that the signs indicate a condition that only flares occasionally. Or, the symptoms may become regular or so severe that they can no longer be ignored.
Making a diagnosis
Since TMJ has many signs that can show up in different areas of the body, it is easy to make a wrong diagnosis. Patients with TMJ might be told that the condition is a migraine or primary tension headaches or even Meniere’s disease.
Misdiagnosis is possible is common if the accident also led to other injuries. For instance, a patient might be suspected of suffering a head injury in the accident that caused the jaw injury. Therefore, the doctor might recommend a treatment for head injuries when what is required is jaw treatment, either alone or in conjunction with the head treatment.
A jaw injury can cause TMJ disorder, but early intervention can help prevent the condition from worsening. Book an appointment with the dentist to get started.
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