Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) - What Happens
The course of
temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) caused by muscle
tension varies depending on the cause of the muscle tension.
- If muscle tension is related to a one-time
overuse injury (such as holding your mouth open for a long time during a dental
exam), the pain and discomfort may go away without treatment.
- If there is long-lasting (chronic) muscle tension
due to stress, anxiety, an injury or blow to the jaw, or habits like grinding
the teeth during sleep, treatment (including changing certain habits) may
relieve pain and discomfort. If chronic muscle tension is not treated, it may
gradually cause changes in the joint structure or
TMDs caused by problems in the
structure of the jaw joint may:
- Respond well to nonsurgical treatment, if
- Get worse, if not treated. Long-term consequences
include injury to the disc or other tissues in the joint, arthritis, or chronic
In some cases, TMDs can be
extremely painful and disabling and last a long time. Such
chronic pain can affect a person's overall quality of
life by increasing stress, making it hard to do a job, and
interfering with personal life.
anxiety are common results of chronic pain. Treatments may not relieve pain due to the lasting
psychological and biological impact of
chronic pain. These biological effects can lead to a sense of helplessness and biochemical
changes in the body that perpetuate pain. In these
cases, it is especially important to seek treatment for TMD pain and
for related depression and anxiety.