How Long Do TMJ Disorder (TMD) Symptoms Last?

The duration of TMD symptoms, which include headaches, jaw pain, and trouble chewing, can range from a few days to several years. Many times, TMD can be effectively treated at home, and it can even go away on its own.

Even while moderate jaw clicking is usually not a cause for alarm, most individuals want any pain that interferes with their daily lives to be treated as soon as possible.

Erin Fraundor, DMD, MSD, an orthodontist and the founder of Orthodontic + Whitening Studio, outlines what to expect if you have TMD.

How long does TMJ usually last?

Problems such as jaw pain or trouble eating can arise from trauma, overuse, or other conditions affecting the complex temporomandibular joint (TMJ): a disease known as TMJ dysfunction (TMD).

"Temporary TMJ discomfort may range from days to weeks, months, and beyond," according to Fraundor. Others have persistent symptoms of TMD.

According to Fraundor, acute incidents are frequently the cause of transient TMD symptoms, which include:
  • dental procedures (i.e., wisdom teeth removal)
  • injuries (i.e., sports or car accidents)
According to her, there may be brief symptoms if the mouth is kept open for a long time during a dental procedure, but they should go away really quickly—usually in a few days. However, more stressful events—like an injury—might take a little longer to recuperate.

Additionally, there may be a connection between elevated TMD symptoms and pregnancy. Fraundor notes that 2023 research suggests that pregnancy-related problems such as morning sickness, difficulty sleeping, or increased amounts of the hormone relaxin—which causes more laxity in the joints—may be involved. However, scientists are still unable to make a firm conclusion.

If you do believe your TMD is related to pregnancy, it should go away in the postpartum phase.

What causes chronic jaw pain or TMD?

The most common cause of chronic TMD is an underlying problem such as:
  • teeth grinding
  • jaw clenching
  • malocclusion (irregular bite)
  • poor posture
  • poor oral habits
  • arthritis
  • stress
  • dehydration
  • poor nutrition
Chronic TMD can be treated in part by identifying and addressing the underlying cause. Read this article to find out more.

How long is too long for TMJ?

Fraundor says, "TMD affects everyone differently." "The symptoms and experiences of every patient are different." As a result, neither the diagnosis nor the course of treatment are standardised.

So, when should you visit a physician for treatment of your TMD? "Tolerance is the key," suggests Fraundor. "It's time to see a professional if a patient cannot bear the discomfort and it is affecting their quality of life."

But in many instances, the problem is just "an acute flare-up that can be relieved by resting the TMJ, some time, and using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) at home."

Is TMJ hard to treat?

Although the symptoms of TMJ problems generally go away on their own, there isn't always an easy way to actively treat it.

According to Fraundor, "TMD treatment is very complex because it is not black and white." "Most of the time, we try treating one possible cause at a time and see how it goes," the author says.

Like when you work out too hard at the gym and are stiff for a few days, your facial muscles and jaw joints often need a little time for recuperation, according to Fraundor, if you are experiencing new TMJ symptoms as a result of dental work or another acute issue.

In critical circumstances, she advises you to:
  • Give the joint as much rest as you can.
  • Avert chewy or firm foods (like gum).
  • take OTC anti-inflammatories
  • To alleviate pain, administer heat or ice for 20 minutes each hour.
  • Massage the region lightly.
Other potential treatments include:
  • medication (i.e., NSAIDs or other pain relievers)
  • physical therapy (i.e., TMJ exercises)
  • hot or cold therapy
  • Botox
  • surgery
  • TMJ implants
  • stress management techniques (i.e., breathwork, meditation)
  • behavioural changes (i.e., changing a jaw-clenching habit)
  • orthopaedic devices (i.e., a mouthguard)


Acute TMD usually goes away on its own in a matter of days to weeks. Experts advise hot/cold therapy, resting the joint, and over-the-counter pain medication to reduce pain during this period.

It is advised to see a doctor in cases that are more serious and persistent. Orthopaedic devices, physical therapy, and stress management techniques can all assist get the joint back to working at its best.

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