Temporomandibular dysfunction also known as TMD is a syndrome as a result of problems with the jaw and its surrounding muscles and ligaments. Our jaws get a great workout daily as we use it for talking, chewing, yawning. If you place your fingers in front of your ears and open your jaw, you will feel a bone pushing against your fingers. That is your temporomandibular joint (aka TMJ). Try it out…did you hear or feel any clicking or grinding? If so, keep reading….
Various statistics show that approx 15-25% of the North American population suffer from TMD. Some of the causes are outlined below:
1- Direct blow/injury to the jaw, neck, and/or shoulders (example via sporting injury or a car accident)
2- Clenching and grinding your teeth
3- Dislocation of the disc in the jaw
4- Misalignment of your jaw, neck, upper back and shoulders
5- Problems with your teeth
6 – Stress
TMD can cause many symptoms. Here are just a few:
2 – Pain in the jaw, neck and shoulders especially when eating or chewing
3 – “Locked” or “stuck” jaw when you try to open or close it
4 – Ear pain
What are some of your options to treat TMD:
1- Chiropractic joint re-alignment.
Doctors of Chiropractic can help to realign the jaw if the disc is displaced and help restore movement in the “locked” jaw. Talk to your Chiropractor about the Activator tool to help treat jaw misalignments. Also ask them to check if your joints in your neck and upper back and shoulders are correctly aligned and moving as correct curvature in the neck is crucial for jaw movement.
2- Active Release Technique (A.R.T) is a soft tissue treatment designed to reduce scar tissue in muscles, ligaments and tendons resulting in reduced pain and increased mobility. Check to see if your Chiropractor is A.R.T.
3- Massage therapy.
A registered massage therapist is trained to treat TMD by treating the muscles, ligaments and fascia surrounding the jaw, facial muscles, neck and shoulder muscles.
4- Ice therapy for pain management and to reduce inflammation in the jaw
5- Medications – please talk to your family doctor to recommend the best suited medications for you AND to ensure the medications do not conflict with any of your other prescribed medicines
6- Eat soft foods
7 – See your Dentist…. You may need a mouth guard
8 – Find some stress management tips to help you reduce grinding or clenching your jaw