Aka the JAW
Place your fingers in your ears so that you are unable to hear. Then slowly open and close your jaw. If you hear a clicking, popping, and/or grinding noise, the jaw joints may be out of alignment. An assessment, diagnosis and treatment by your Doctor of Chiropractic or Medical Professional are advisable.
WHAT IS IT?
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) or more commonly known, as the Jaw is one of the most frequently used joints in the body for talking, chewing, yawning, biting or any action of the jaw. If you place your fingers right in front of your ears, you will feel a boney prominence. At the same time, open and close your jaw and you will feel two bones separate. That is your Temporomandibular Joint
Temporomandibular dysfunction occurs when the joint is misaligned or not functioning correctly. Studies report that this condition afflicts 10 million Americans annually.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The TMJ is a structure consisting of muscles, ligaments, bones, disc and a joint. A disc that acts as a cushion or shock absorber to everyday joint impact such as biting, chewing, clenching and grinding, surrounds each TMJ. The TMJ functions to open and close the mouth and assists in chewing, speaking, swallowing and yawning, to name a few.
In a healthy jaw, the joints slide over the disc smoothly and allow the opening and closing of the jaw. If there has been any trauma, direct or indirect, to the TMJ, this will cause a misalignment of the jaw and hence will have a negative impact on the function of this joint.
CAUSES OF TMJ DYSFUNCTION
Research has shown that trauma seems to be the leading cause of TMJ Dysfunction.
If you think you may have TMJ Dysfunction, here is a test. Place a check mark beside each activity you engage in. Bring this in with you for your next Chiropractic visit and we can assess your TMJ.
q Direct blow to the jaw
q Whiplash injury
q Cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder
q Improper fitted braces
q Grinding or clenching your teeth
q Physical stress
q Emotional stress
q Poor bite
q Excessive gum chewing
q Chewing on one side of mouth
q Nail biting
Bruxism, defined as grinding or clenching of the teeth especially at night, also cause increased stress to the TMJ. Most individuals who grind their teeth do so at night or when they are stressed. Has your Dentist said to you that you must be grinding your teeth? Not only does that cause increased stress to your TMJ but it also wears out the enamel on your teeth. One approach to correct the grinding is a prescription mouth guard.
The force or pressure exerted onto the TMJ during the above activities causes excess wear and tear of the joint. The disc, which cushions the joint and acts as a shock absorber, will wear out or get displaced causing misalignment and/or incorrect functioning of the joint.
Sitting at your dentists chair with your jaw wide open and your neck and back in an awkward posture for a prolonged length of time can cause stress to both your spine and TMJ. It is recommended that you always follow up a dental visit with a visit to your Chiropractor.
Poor or incorrect posture may also contribute to TMJ Dysfunction. Most individuals, especially those who work at a computer tend to have incorrect work station ergonomics i.e. Head turned to left because monitor is to their left, key board too high