How TMJ Is Affecting Your Health

by Dr. Diane Hourigan

The jaw joint is one of those things most people flat-out take for granted. For many, it does its job on a daily basis without any issues, but when something goes wrong, it can be painfully obvious for the person suffering from the problem.


Should the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) become misaligned, the side effects can be incredibly painful throughout the face and ears. In some cases, the effects of a TMJ disorder can be even more painful or far-reaching.

TMJ Disorder and Its Effects on Overall Health


There are a number of ways in which TMJ can negatively impact a person’s health beyond the discomfort they may feel in their jaw on a daily basis. The following are some possibilities for how TMJ can eventually manifest itself in different ways:


Chronic Headaches & Migraines


Perhaps the most common symptom associated with TMJ is painful headaches. Because the jaw isn’t behaving the way it should, it can cause all sorts of pain in the face and jaw muscles, and that can manifest itself as a headache that simply will not go away. For those that suffer from migraines anyway, TMJ can exacerbate the problem, causing excruciating chronic headaches that make it hard to function in everyday life.


Difficult Sleeping


As is the case with any kind of major pain, TMJ can cause difficulties sleeping, and a lack of sleep can cause hosts of other problems. Losing sleep can affect a person’s memory, mood, concentration, blood pressure, weight, and immune system. In every possible way, losing sleep as a result of TMJ is something that can spiral into much bigger problems over time.


Abnormal Tooth Wear


Because TMJ causes misalignment of the jaw, it is possible for a patient’s jaw to chew differently than it should, often resulting in abnormal wear and tear on certain teeth. No damage to teeth is good damage, which means over time this abnormal wear could require cosmetic procedures to save the tooth. If not, patients could be at higher risk for cavities.




Vertigo is a disorder that can make it feel like everything around a person is moving or spinning and is most often caused by problems with the inner ear. This very sensitive part of the inner ear is located in proximity to the TMJ, so any inflammation of that joint certainly can have an impact on vertigo.




Another problem that concerns the ear, tinnitus is an incessant ringing attached to hearing loss, and while most cases are not curable, those associated to TMJ can be with proper treatment. That’s good news, but experiencing the problem in the first place is no fun. Again, because the TMJ is located near the inner ear, any issues with muscle, cartilage, or ligaments near the eardrum can be responsible for tinnitus.

Treatment for TMJ Disorder

Thankfully, the experts at Dr. Diane Hourigan’s office want to help if you are experiencing any discomfort in your jaw. As your Chapel Hill dentist, we have the professionals and the equipment to provide professional TMJ treatment and help relieve patients of this issue, hopefully clearing up all the other long-term risks associated with TMJ in the process.