The temporomandibular joint (aka the TMJ or Jaw) is an intricate pair of hinge joints that is very important in our day to day life. TMJ treatment is available from many types of healthcare providers that you probably see regularly. While the exact cause of TMJ problems is unknown, it can be relatively easy to diagnose and to treat. A chiropractic adjustment for TMJ can relieve pain and discomfort as well as get your jaw moving as it should.
We use our TMJ to talk, eat, drink, balance, and much more! When our TMJ doesn’t function as it should, it can affect all of these different activities. Many people suffer from a condition called Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (aka TMD or TMJD), which is a condition that envelopes most problems of the TMJ. It is estimated that the prevalence of people suffering from some form of TMD is between 5% and 25%, and is more common in women than in men (National Institute of Dental and Craniofascial Research, Pavia et al, Rubis et al).
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction:
· Clicking in the jaw
· Pain in the jaw
· Inability to open the mouth more than 30 mm
· Deviation of the jaw when opening the mouth
· Grinding or clenching teeth
· Vertigo or Tinnitus
· Tension in the muscles of mastication (chewing)
Things that can affect TMJ function:
· Dental work – from general cleanings to oral surgery
· Braces – especially when the braces are put on, taken off, or tightened
· Frequent or excessive yawning
· Bad posture
· Injuries, such as whiplash
There are several ways that TMJ treatment can be done: by your local chiropractor, massage or physical therapist, or by your dentist or other oral specialist.
The Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique is a gentle and safe way of treating TMD with chiropractic adjustments. There is an initial exam process, then the adjustments themselves are gentle and effective. During the exam and adjustment it is very important to assess the TMJ, head, and neck since these structures are intricately related and form one stomatognathic unit. Problems or dysfunction in one of these areas can certainly affect the other structures in the unit (Rubis et al, Westersund et al).
Before adjusting the TMJ, most chiropractors will adjust your full spine, paying particular attention to the neck and skull. It is very important to adjust the neck first because of its close relationship to the skull and TMJ. The chiropractor then will do a series of tests on both sides of your TMJ to determine the exact direction that it is not moving properly or misaligned. Depending on the extent of your history with TMD, it may take just a few treatments or several treatments to maintain the corrections in your TMJ. Your individual treatment plan will be discussed with you by the chiropractor you seek.