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TMJ Caused by Car Accidents

March 25, 2013

TMJ is a condition where the jaw locks, making it difficult to speak or chew. It is a very painful condition which affects the bone, muscles, ligaments and discs of the jaw. People who suffer injuries in a car accident could be at an increased risk of developing delayed jaw pain and dysfunction, according to a Swedish study. Researchers found that over one third of those injured in a rear-end accident developed temporal mandibular joint pain (TMJ) when evaluated one year later. The study is published in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Swedish researchers looked at 60 patients involved in rear- end accidents, which are the most common type of car accident. Subjects were checked immediately after the car accident and then again a year later.

Researchers found that those who suffered whiplash in the car accident were 5 times more likely to develop TMJ pain or discomfort than those in the control group who were not injured. After one year, 34% of those initially suffering whiplash had TMJ symptoms, compared with only 7% among the non-injured group.

Rear-end car accidents may result in whiplash injuries, regardless of the speed of the collision. If the driver of the car being hit in the rear is unaware of the pending crash, they are often able to prepare and brace for the impact. Caught off guard, the head and neck can be suddenly accelerated and decelerated in an awkward motion, resulting in whiplash.

Insurance adjusters often attempt to dispute claims involving a TMJ injury, since the jaw condition can develop even without a trauma. Unless the impact is substantial and there is evidence of a direct trauma to the jaw as a result of the accident, the insurance company will likely try to deny payment for TMJ treatment. This study provides compelling evidence to challenge any such denial, as it demonstrates a clear link between the development of TMJ symptoms and a whiplash injury.

If you have any questions about car accidents causing TMJ symptoms, feel free to contact my office at any time.