200 S. El Molino Ave. Suite 6, Pasadena CA 91101
Contact : (626) 773-8333
tmj disorder

FAQ: Can a TMJ Disorder Affect Only One Side of the Face?

Many patients ask us if it’s possible to develop a TMJ disorder on one side of the face.

The answer is yes, but it’s important to understand that as the TMD progresses, new symptoms will appear that will likely affect both joints.

How TMD Might Develop on Just One Side

In a perfect world, our temporomandibular joints should be closely matched. However, it’s really not uncommon for people to have uneven forces on their jaw joints.

One of the biggest causes of uneven force on the jaw joints is trauma; like a blow to the side of the jaw. Ironically, though, that might not be the joint that ends up causing problems. It’s also possible that when one joint gets hurt, you might favor it, and in the process create a habit of stressing the other jaw joint. The repeated stress on this jaw joint can then lead to damage.

(RELATED: Drug-Free TMJ Treatment for Patients with Migraines and Jaw Pain

Another cause of imbalanced forces on jaw joints are our habits. For instance, if you are right-handed, you may be more prone to biting the nails on your right hand, or biting a pen on the right side of your mouth.

If you have bruxism, you’re likely clenching and grinding more on one side than the other, too.

TMD Symptoms Usually Spread

But while TMJ symptoms like popping and clicking, jaw pain, and ringing in the ear might start on one side, it likely won’t stay isolated to one joint. That’s because the two joints are designed to work together, and eventually mechanisms will transfer the dysfunction to the second joint.

For example, biting, chewing, and grinding on one side of the mouth will initially stress the jaw joint on that side, but as the dysfunction continues, the teeth will be worn down on that side. This will cause the jaw to tilt, putting stress on both joints and muscles on both sides of the head.

(RELATED: Finding TMJ Pain Relief From Physical Therapy)

And then there’s the tendency to compensate. When one jaw joint is causing you problems, you might favor the other one, which can lead to additional stress.

When to Seek Treatment

If you are experiencing TMJ symptoms on one side of your jaw, it’s important that you take them seriously. Leaving symptoms untreated can cause them to worsen and may lead to them spreading to the opposite joint.

To schedule an appointment with us, give us a call at 616-778-8333, or schedule an appointment online.

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About Pasadena Pain Management

Pasadena Pain Management offers pain management treatment for TMJ/TMD, migraine, headaches and neck pain in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Pasadena Pain Management, we offer the exclusive TruDenta treatment therapy — a highly specialized form of care that involves cutting-edge dental technology, without needles or injections. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable pain management care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping our patients happy and pain free.