TMJ – TMD

What is TMJ?

The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint that enables you to open and close your mouth,chew and speak. You can easily find your TMJ by placing your fingers in front of either ear and opening your mouth. You should feel the joint moving beneath your fingers.  When there are problems with the TMJ or the surrounding structures it leads to a condition known as TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction).

Common Symptoms

If you are suffering from TMD, common symptoms you may experience are:

  • Pain in your jaw
  • Trouble opening and closing your mouth
  • Jaw locking, clicking or popping
  • Headaches
  • Pain in your neck or face
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Ear pain

Causes

There are a number of causes of TMD. Sometimes, TMD develops over time when the jaw muscles are overworked, putting pressure on the joint.  This can occur in clenching and grinding the teeth.  However, TMD can also be caused by:

  • Disc dislocation
  • Ill-fitting dental fillings, crowns, dentures, etc make the bite uneven
  • Trauma to the mouth (falling directly on the jaw or dental surgery)
  • Hereditary issues
  • Specific diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or fibromyalgia

Treatment

Management of TMD can be complex and involve multiple practitioners and modalities.  We like to keep our contributions as simple and effective as we can.  Simple, but not always easy.

Typically, we will be working with the functional aspects of the problem.  Significant structural changes may not be possible, but improving function to some extent is almost always possible.

We will focus on restoring functional movement to the tissue.  This is generally accomplished through Active Release Technique (ART),  Graston Technique (IASTM) and joint mobilisation. It is also important to look at the functionally related tissues in the neck and shoulders.  Some of our other treatment options include acupuncture and massage therapy, which help to improve muscle tone and mobility.

We typically work with your dentist and occasionally TMD specialists, who are usually sub specialty dentists.  They would address bite issues, potentially prescribing and manufacturing a night splint.

References

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors. (n.d.). Chiropractic for TMJ pain. https://albertachiro.com/ACAC/Chiropractic_in_Alberta/BLOG/Chiropractic_for_TMJ_pain.aspx

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