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TMJD Treatment

Most people associate chiropractic care with back pain and headaches, but it is for so much more than that! With chiropractic adjustments, we make sure that the spine is properly aligned and all the segments are moving properly. You have other joints in your body besides your spine that can have improper motion. One of the joints that commonly have dysfunction is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or the jaw joint.

12% of the population experience temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD) at some point in their life. Typical symptoms of TMJD include pain in the jaw joint, difficulty or pain with chewing and talking, headaches, neck pain, and popping or clicking of the jaw. Dysfunction of the jaw can be caused by muscle tension, subluxation in the upper neck, direct trauma to the jaw, recent dental work, or a degenerative joint disease such as arthritis.

To address the jaw with chiropractic care, we first make sure to correct the alignment of your neck since all the nerves in the upper neck feed the muscles of your face. We typically use an activator to perform a gentle chiropractic adjustment to your jaw joint. Then we work on the muscles of the jaw with pressure point releases and stretches. The jaw joint is a highly mobile and neurologically sensitive joint so it’s important to incorporate at-home care to receive the best results.

How We Treat TMJ Pain in Macomb, MI

Comprehensive Consultation and Exam

As with any new patient that comes into our office, we want to conduct a thorough health history so we can understand your story. We want to understand how TMJ issues have affected your life and the things you’ve done to try to manage the issue. After the consultation, we’ll perform chiropractic, functional, orthopedic, and neurological exams to assess dysfunction. Range of motion testing, open mouth and lateral deviation, will alert us to mobility issues. The overall goal with these exams is to get to the root cause of the issue. TMJD can often lead to other issues like neck pain and headaches, so it’s important to have the complete picture.

Specific Chiropractic Care in Macomb MI

TMJ joint dysfunction is a common finding amongst our patients. We first perform chiropractic adjustments to the spine to make sure that there is proper alignment of the vertebrae. This will relieve pressure on the nervous system so that it can function properly. Vertebral subluxation, or stress on a nerve, in the cervical spine can be directly related to TMJ dysfunction since the nerves in your upper neck supply the muscles of the jaw. We then analyze the motion of the jaw joint and correct any mobility issues with a gentle, specific adjustment typically using an activator tool. Soft tissue work is done on the muscles of the jaw along with at-home exercises to help strengthen and stabilize the joint.

Massage Therapy and/or Soft Tissue Work

There are three main muscles in the jaw – the masseter, temporalis, and pterygoid. These muscles are responsible for moving the jaw when we eat, smile, talk, laugh, etc. These muscles play a big role in TMJD, making the dysfunction such a difficult condition to live with. With TMJD, the jaw muscles are tight and irritated. Relieving the irritation and relaxing the muscles through soft tissue work is a great addition to the chiropractic adjustments on the jaw and cervical spine. In addition to relieving tension, stretches help to improve the range of motion of the muscles and the joints leading to better flexibility and functionality of the jaw joint.

Nutritional Supplementation

If you experience TMJ dysfunction, there are certain foods you should try to avoid. Caffeine should be avoided since it causes your muscles to work harder than normal, causing more strain on the jaw. Gum, or any food that requires extensive chewing, should be avoided as well since your jaw joint is already unstable and misaligned, any extra chewing exacerbates the situation. Like the vertebrae in our spine, our jaw also has a disc that sits in the joint to facilitate movement. That disc can slip out of position when it is overstressed. If your TMJ pain is a disc issue, any foods that require you to open your jaw wide, such as biting into a whole apple, should be avoided to avoid extra stress on the disc.

Common Symptoms of TMJD in Macomb, MI

Jaw Pain

The most common symptom of TMJD is pain, either while talking, chewing, laughing, really with any movement of the jaw. TMJ pain can often be constant and unrelenting. Trauma to the jaw, recent dental work, excessive stimulation like chewing gum, or joint degeneration like arthritis are all common causes of TMJ joint pain.

Headaches and neck pain are commonly associated with TMJD. That’s because the muscles in the head are all very closely related. Muscle tension in the jaw can travel up into the head and back into the neck and the nerves that service the face exit the spine through the upper neck. This is why it’s so important to have a chiropractor assess TMJ issues. We want to understand the full scope of the issue so that we can stop the pain and dysfunction for good.

Jaw Popping and Clicking

Another common result of TMJD is the audible popping and clicking that can occur with jaw movement. Sometimes jaw popping and clicking can cause pain and sometimes is just an annoying nuisance. A displaced disc is usually the culprit behind the popping. When the disc is displaced and not in between the bony joint surfaces, it will come into contact with the mandible as it opens and closes the mouth.

Jaw Locking

If the disc is completely displaced forward, it can prevent the mandible from translating forward to a fully open mouth. This is a serious complication. Lockjaw can be very painful and limiting, and severely decreases a person’s quality of life. Muscle work is critical in these circumstances to help relax the jaw so that a chiropractor has the chance to restore the joint and disc to their proper places.

Jaw Clenching

Chronic jaw clenching from stress or anxiety can lead to TMJ dysfunction. Many times people can be clenching their jaw and not even realize it. People will often clench their jaws when they’re asleep. Clenching causes tightness and adhesions to develop in the muscles around the TMJ. Over time, this tension can even lead to tension headaches. Practicing yoga, meditation, or other stress-relieving techniques can help to decrease clenching and the associated muscle pain.

Difficulty Chewing

Difficulty chewing may be the most frustrating symptom of TMJD. Due to pain or limited range of motion either from joint dysfunction or disc displacement, it can be nearly impossible to enjoy certain foods. This can be devastating, requiring you to completely eliminate certain foods from your diet. Your jaw may lock or the excessive muscle tension that has built up over time may quickly lead to muscle fatigue. It’s not enough to simply cover up the pain with medication, the underlying cause of the problem, whether that is joint dysfunction or muscle hypertonicity, must be addressed. Otherwise, the problem will continue to return and disrupt one of life’s most wonderful activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Chiropractic help with TMJ?

Yes! Dr. Bence has special training in addressing TMJ dysfunction and helping to relieve symptoms.

What causes TMJ to flare up?

Avoid foods that require a lot of chewing or that require you to take large bites, such as apples. Stress can also contribute to pain in the jaw joint.

How do you get rid of TMJ fast?

A chiropractic adjustment and exercises for the jaw joint are the most effective way of eliminating TMJ pain and stabilizing the jaw joint.

Can you fix TMJ without surgery?

Yes! Chiropractic care is the most conservative approach to help relieve jaw pain.

What is a chiropractic adjustment for TMJ like?

We will typically use an activator to perform a gentle, specific adjustment to the jaw joint and then work on the muscles that aid in chewing to relieve tension.

If you suffer from TMJ pain, please contact Dr. Bence know so he can help you find lasting relief!

TMJD Treatment Macomb, MI | (586) 978-9900