What Happens When TMD Goes Untreated

Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee

After suffering from frequent headaches, migraines, and jaw pain, you probably found yourself in a dentist’s chair asking for answers. After seeing your worn and/or broken teeth and listening to clicks and pops in your jaw, they might have given you a diagnosis with a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Although you received a diagnosis, you never moved forward with treatment. Or your dentist gave you a nightguard to wear and you have yet to experience any relief.

Whether you’re not using any treatment recommended by a dentist or the treatment they provided you isn’t working, your TMJ disorder isn’t being properly treated. Without proper treatment, a number of problems can pop up. Discover what happens if you let your TMJ disorder go untreated and how our Nashville neuromuscular dentist can help.

young woman suffering from headache

Causes and Effects of TMJ

If you visited a dentist other than Dr. White at the Center for Advanced Dentistry in Nashville, you might not have a complete understanding of what TMD is and how it affects your jaw. To help you understand TMD better, it’s best to start with Dr. White’s neuromuscular approach. As part of the TMD diagnosis process, Dr. White relies on neuromuscular diagnostics.

Neuromuscular dentistry is the area of dentistry that focuses on the connection between teeth, muscles, nerves, and joints and how they work together to function properly. When one of those aspects has a dysfunction, it can throw off the function of everything. Neuromuscular dentistry examines the dynamic physician relation between posturing or range of motion in the joints of the head, neck, and body. The imbalance and dysfunction are what cause TMJ disorders.

During your evaluation, Dr. White will complete an in-depth exam to determine the source of the pain and dysfunction. His evaluation might look at:

  • Tooth wear, trauma, or decay
  • Past dental work
  • Jaw bone structure
  • Facial muscle stress
  • Gum tissue health

Typically, TMD will cause a range of symptoms such as the following.

  • Ear pain and fullness
  • Forward head posture
  • Loose teeth
  • Tingling fingertips
  • Clenching/grinding teeth
  • Jaw clicking and popping

The common approach for TMD treatment from a non-neuromuscular dentist is wearing a nightguard. Nightguards do not correct the initial cause of TMD. Instead, they prevent the teeth from being able to touch at night from clenching and grinding. They protect the teeth but symptoms and pain from TMD will still persist without neuromuscular dentistry treatment.

The Consequences of Untreated TMJ

Whether you opt for a night guard or ignore treatment altogether, you will still experience symptoms that affect your quality of life like frequent headaches and migraines, jaw, back, shoulder, and neck pain, and ear problems. In addition, your teeth will continue to experience significant wear which can lead to cracks and chips that require dental crowns to restore. In some cases, TMD gets so bad without treatment that it requires surgery to fix.

Why You Should Visit a Neuromuscular Dentist in Nashville

If you want to find relief from TMD pain, don’t visit just any ordinary dentist. Visit Dr. White at the Center for Advanced Dentistry. With his neuromuscular approach, he will address the cause of TMD and treat it accordingly so that everything in your jaw functions correctly. To accurately diagnose your condition, Dr. White uses the BioPak diagnostics suite and T-scan. The BioPak suite measures different aspects of jaw health including jaw motion, sounds, and muscle activity. The T-scan measures the force each individual tooth uses to bite. The data allows Dr. White to identify imbalances in your bite.

Based on the information collected during your diagnosis, Dr. White will create a custom treatment plan that may involve wearing a custom orthotic appliance to correct teeth and jaw posture. By holding teeth in their optimal resting position, it will relax the surrounding muscles, reduce pressure on jaw joints, nerves, and other surrounding structures. This will reduce or eliminate TMJ pain over time. For permanent relief, Dr. White might recommend a smile makeover to permanently establish a healthy bite.

Whether you think you have TMJ or other treatments aren’t helping, Dr. White is happy to help. Please contact our dental office at (615) 383-6787 to book an appointment today.