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Can Whiplash From a Car Accident Cause TMJ?

Suffering from TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorders, after a car accident? This condition is more common than you might think, and you don’t even have to injure your jaw in the collision to experience it. In fact, research from the American Dental Association (ADA) found that up to one-third of people who suffer from whiplash from a car accident will develop TMJ within one year after the incident. Here’s what you need to know about the relationship between whiplash and TMJ, and how you can effectively treat these injuries.

Whiplash From a Collision Can Cause TMJ

Many people mistakenly believe that you have to injure the jaw itself to develop TMJ following a car accident, but research shows that there’s a correlation between whiplash trauma and TMJ. Whiplash is the most common car accident injury, and it occurs when a person’s head or neck moves rapidly in response to impact. The force can injure soft tissues, tendons, muscles, and more.

Whiplash causes damage to the jaw by putting strain on the temporomandibular joints. These critical joints are stressed after whiplash trauma, impairing proper jaw function and causing pain in the jaw joint and the muscles that control its movement.

The symptoms of both whiplash and TMJ may not occur until days, weeks, or months after a car accident. If you’ve been in a collision—even a minor fender bender—you should visit your healthcare provider to determine if you’ve been injured, even if you don’t feel any pain or discomfort. Early detection and treatment can keep any underlying problems from getting worse.

People who develop TMJ after an accident often experience pain in the trigeminal region of the face which includes everything but the nose and up to the temples. People with whiplash-related TMJ report more symptoms than other TMJ patients. They’re also more likely to have symptoms like headaches, limited jaw opening, and stress. Some of the other common indicators of TMJ to look out for include:

  • Clicking or popping when opening or closing the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Face, jaw, or neck pain
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Vertigo

How to Recover From Whiplash-Related TMJ

While most common cases of TMJ are temporary, that’s rarely the case for TMJ related to car accidents and whiplash. If you develop TMJ after a collision, you can’t expect your symptoms to go away on their own—you need to seek out professional treatment.

While the average TMJ patient visits a dentist to seek relief from their symptoms, people with accident-related TMJ need to address the root of the problem first—whiplash. The experienced medical team at Impact Medical Group of Brandon provides compassionate and patient-centered care that not only addresses symptoms of whiplash, but also the TMJ that often accompanies it. We’re ready to create a customized treatment plan for your situation, so you can get back to enjoying life again. Call us today at (813) 522-8885 for your free initial consultation.