Do you get jaw clicking or popping when you chew, yawn or talk? Do you often get headaches over the side of your head? Has your jaw ever gotten stuck open or closed? Or, is it difficult to “open wide”? Does it hurt in front of your ear when you bite down hard? Have you been told that you have a TMJ problem? If you have pain or issues similar to any of these examples, the following information can help you get relief.
What is a TMJ?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This name describes where your jaw bone, the mandible, attaches to your skull at the temporal bone. You have a right and a left TMJ, one on each side of your head and you can have a problem on one or both sides. The two most common serious problems at the TMJs are arthritis and trauma (such as a broken or dislocated jaw). However, the vast majority of people who have TMJ problems don’t have broken or arthritis jaws and they can be helped without surgery and without drugs.
What causes TMJ related pain or problems?
The TMJs can become misaligned by:
- Imbalance of muscles that attach to the jaw
- Upper neck joints not moving correctly
- Misalignment of face or skull bones
- Tooth or bite alignment problems
- Foot pronation or supination
- Other postural imbalances
Jaw pain and headaches on the side of your head can be caused by:
- Tooth grinding due to stress
- Clenching teeth when concentrating or working or exercising
- Chewing hard things like ice cubes or hard candies
- Constant chewing of things like chewing gum
- Tension in the muscles attached to the jaw
- Lack of mobility of the neck bones
Jaw problems can cause headaches because the jaw closing muscles attach on the side of your head. They are some of the some of the strongest and tightest muscles in your body. If they pull too tight for long enough they will hurt very badly.
How are TMJ problems fixed?
Your dentist can be a part of the team to help you get better when a problem with the alignment of your teeth contributes to TMJ trouble. If you are grinding your teeth when sleeping at night, a well trained dentist can make you a bite guard to protect your teeth and jaw while you sleep. The bite guard can also help reduce tension on the muscles.
Well trained chiropractors are needed because how your TMJ works is a result of the interplay of many other joints and muscles throughout your body. We have even found people with TMJ pain whose problem started with having a flat foot.
As wholistic chiropractors we look at the whole person and all the joints and muscles of the body in order to decrease pain and restore normal function so that your TMJ pain and headaches go away.
Here are a few examples of the approaches we use to help you get better:
- Work to correct the spinal joint problems that can contribute to the jaw issues
- Check your feet to see if they are flat or have an arch that is too high. If you do have an issue, then we can cast your feet for orthotics (shoe inserts) that correct the postural imbalances from your feet. This can surprisingly help you a lot.
- Provide muscle work to balance the imbalanced muscles affecting your jaw
- Work to address the cranial imbalances that may be affecting the jaw alignment
- Suggest nutritional supplements that reduce muscle tension
- Suggest nutritional supplements that help with stress
- Adjusting your spine eases irritation of your nervous system so you feel less stressed and so have less tension
- Give you exercises that you can do in a few minutes during the day to correct postural imbalances and reduce muscle tension and burn off stress chemicals
- Teach you jaw stretches that can ease jaw tension
So, if you are getting any jaw symptoms of pain, clicking, or headaches, don’t resort to drugs or needless surgery that can make you sick, instead try our healthful and helpful natural approach.
Give us a call today at 978-535-6155.