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Have you ever noticed that there is constant tension in your jaw? Do ever you find that there’s limited movement in your jaw and sometimes it even “clicks” or locks and you can’t open your mouth 100% of the way? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, it’s possible that you have a TMJ disorder.

What is TMJ?

First of all, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. We are able to control the movement and position of the jaw with the 68 pairs of muscles that are attached to the joint. They allow you to chew, talk, speak and swallow and are in constant use. If you put your finger in your ear and then push forward while you open and close your mouth you should be able to feel it. This joint is one of the most frequently used in our bodies. 

TMJ

Even though TMJ is common, many people prolong getting treatment because the pain is not immediate. If you’re experiencing TMJ, do not continue suffering! Our goal is to explain to you how you can get your TMJ under control and get your jaw back to normal. 

Causes

It is not always clear what the causes of TMJ are. It’s believed that symptoms can occur when there are problems with the muscles of the jaw or with parts of the joint itself. An injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joint, heavy blow or whiplash of the head/neck can cause TMJ. Other possible causes can include:

  • Grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ
  • Dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket
  • Presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
  • Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth

Symptoms

  • Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide
  • Limited ability to open the mouth very wide
  • Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth (which may or may not be accompanied by pain) or chewing
  • A tired feeling in the face
  • Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite – as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
  • Swelling on the side of the face
  • May occur on one or both sides of the face

Other symptoms you may experience with TMJ include: toothaches, earaches, problems with hearing, headaches, dizziness, upper shoulder pain, headaches and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

Some basic, treatments for TMJ include:

  • Apply moist heat or cold packs.
  • Eat soft foods.
  • Low-level laser therapy.
  • Wear a splint or night guard.
  • Undergo corrective dental treatments.
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements.
  • Keep your teeth slightly apart
  • Learning relaxation techniques

Important Notes

  • TMJ pain does not typically go away on its own
  • It’s important to address the pain as early as possible
  • If left untreated, chronic pain associated with TMJ can lead to additional health issues such as joint damage, wearing down of teeth, sleep disorders, depression, etc
  • Understand your triggers- pain associated with TMJ can increase and decrease depending on external factors such as stress, illness, weather, etc. 

How Can Chiropractic Care Help?

If you’re ready to get your TMJ under control, consider seeking chiropractic care.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for TMJ

  • Your chiropractor is trained and equipped to correct ailments due to misalignments. 
  • You will receive a full lifestyle assessment and do a hands-on assessment to see why you are experiencing this pain/joint problem. You may be sent to have x-rays done to locate if there is an obvious misalignment.
  • A TMJ treatment plan will be created for you to follow. If your TMJ is stress-related, then several muscle-relieving exercises and/or stress relieving therapies may be recommended. Some of these may include meditation, counselling, or massage. 
  • Treatments such as heat, ice, electric stimulation and ultrasound will be used when needed. The emphasis is on rehabilitation and return of motion through specifically tailored programs.
  • Chiropractic care can reduce your pain associated with your TMJ either when used alone or in addition to other treatment methods. 
  • Pain is eased when the misalignment between your spine and nervous system is corrected.
  • Adjustments can help relax your muscles, adjust your joints and chiropractors can use specific trigger points to accurately reposition your jaw. A trigger point feels like a knot or knots and can be painful when pressure is applied to them, even twitch in response to the pressure. They are made up of very sensitive muscle fibres. 
  • Chiropractic treatment can not only treat the short term pain but also prevent your TMJ from returning.

If you’re experiencing pain that is associated with TMJ, there is a way out! There is no need to live with the pain. It’s imperative to correct the problem, not just treat the pain. 

Schedule an appointment today and let’s get you some relief!