Can a car or truck accident cause a TMJ injury? 

Yes. To the extent that an automobile acciendt involves a blow or impact to the head and/or TMJ area, a crash can cause a TMJ injury. 

How do doctors and dentists diagnose TMJ injuries in auto accident victims?

If a car accident victim's doctor or dentist suspects the victim is suffering from a TMJ injury,  the doctor or dentist may order diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. 

What are the treatment options for a TMJ injury?

There are several levels of treatment for a TMJ injury that a patient may be prescribed, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

  • Medications such as pain killers, antidepressants, muscle relaxants and steroid injections. 
  • Therapies that consist of a bite guard and/or cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • A doctor or dentist may recommend that a person suffering from a TMJ injury undergo corrective dental treatment or, possibly, repair or replacement surgery.  

​​TMJ is an abbreviation for the anatomical structure called the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint connecting your lower jaw (the mandible) and your skull. The movement in this joint allows you to open and close your mouth and chew from side to side. When the joint on one or both sides of your face is displaced or isn't functioning properly, a series of problems generally occur.

Injury to the TMJ presents problems ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and permanent damage if left untreated. There are only a handful of dentist that are able to treat patients with TMJ disorder.

Injuries to the TMJ can result in many complications for the victim, including:

  • Pain in or around the ear
  • Headaches and neck aches
  • Tenderness of the jaw or jaw muscles
  • Jaw pain or soreness that is more prevalent in the morning or late afternoon
  • Jaw pain when chewing, biting or yawning
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth
  • Sensitive teeth when no other dental problems can be found
  • ​Swelling on the face
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain​
  • Limitation of movement
  • An uneven bite

Mild cases frequently become better in a matter of weeks or months with minor care such as applying ice and preventing additional strain on the jaw and surrounding muscles. 

When cases of TMJ are severe and persistent, there may be no cure for the condition. Instead, ongoing management of symptoms is required. In these cases, becoming educated about the condition, seeking advice from healthcare professionals from a number of relevant specialties, and participating in support groups such as the TMJ Association may be of help to an individual.