Temporomandibular (TMJ)/Jaw Disorders
Dr. Jones has been working TMJ disorders for many years.
TMJ is the jaw (temporomandibular joint) and for the majority of us, we never have a problem in this area. But for those who have had injury, high levels of stress, or grind their teeth at night, the TMJ can become a very significant source of pain. Also associated with TMJ dysfunction are headaches, chewing and bite problems, and clicking or popping.
- Jaw pain, clicking, popping and locking.
- Headaches and migraines
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Ear pain and ringing and tinnitus
- Sensitive or painful teeth
- Sinus pain
- Teeth sensitive to hot and cold
Our Approach to TMJ (Jaw) Disorders
TMJ (temporomandibular) disorders are often complex conditions involving not only the jaw joint and associated musculature, but are affected by posture, spinal conditions, lifestyle factors, and stress. In fact, many experts in the field now believe that you cannot have a jaw problem without a cervical spine problem and you cannot have a cervical spine problem without jaw involvement.
To illustrate this, try the following simple test. Sit normally and open your mouth and see how many knuckles you can insert into your mouth. Then tilt your head backwards and reinsert your knuckles. You should notice that it is much easier to insert your knuckles now, confirming how the neck influences the jaw.
Our approach is to evaluate all areas potentailly contributing to jaw dysfunction and develop a complete treatment program for optimum results. We often work hand in hand with dental professionals. Midnapore Health Centre has a long history of working on TMJ problems with good results.
- Advice on lifestyle and behavioral factors that aggravate TMJ conditions.
- Soft tissue methods including myofascial trigger points, PIR and PNF stretches, ART (Active Release Techniques).
- Modalities including ultrasound, microcurrent, and heat.
- Mobilization and TMJ adjustments to address the joint, disc and capsular components.
- Exercises to improve flexibility and normalize jaw movements.
- Advice on stress management.
- Referral to dental professionals for possible TMJ appliances.
- Referral for relaxation and psychological approaches.
Home Care For Your TMJ
The good news about treating your TMJ or jaw is that there are a wide range of activities you can do to help yourself. Helping improve your jaw function will often have surprising effects on your total health and well being. Jaw problems are significant because your jaw and related muscles are essential to so many activities of life including: chewing, swallowing, talking, breathing and expressing emotions.
- Relaxed Jaw Posture: You must learn to relax your jaw during the day and to hold it in a relaxed normal position. When not eating or chewing try to keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth, your lips together, but your teeth apart. Stay in this relaxed position throughout the day. Take lots of deep relaxing breaths as well. See Eight Tips to Control your Stress below.
- Strengthening the jaw opening muscles: As above, keep your teeth apart but ‘purse’ your lips. Forcefully push your tongue against the roof of your mouth like saying and holding the letter “N”. Hold for 4-5 seconds, repeat 10 times and do it 4-5 times per day.
- Active motion: Place your tongue in the center of the roof of your mouth. Keep the tongue in place and open slowly to only a 1/3rd opening. Repeat 10-15 times slowly 4-5 times per day.
- Correct spinal posture: (a) Keep your head level and slowly retract your neck by pulling your chin in without tipping your head. (b)Repeat this motion with your hands behind your head and bringing your elbows slowly backward. (c)Lean against the wall with your feet about 10 inches from the wall. Have your elbows bent to 90 degrees with the arms out in front. Slowly rotate your arms out to the wall while you try to squeeze the lower parts of your shoulder blades together. Repeat each exercise 3-4 times and perform 2-3 times per day.
- Breaking jaw tightening habits: Avoid clenching, grinding, chewing gum, chewing pens and pencils, biting your tongue or cheek. Watch that your tongue doesn’t keep pushing against certain teeth. Avoid pushing your jaw side to side or trying to make it ‘pop’ or crack or seeing if your jaw hurts if you force it in certain directions.
- Before bed: Relax before bed time and establish regular sleep habits. Use a chiropractic pillow and a good mattress. Heat your jaw for 10-20 minutes with a hot water bottle, magic bag or heating pad.
Following the above exercises, breaking negative habits and establishing healthy patterns, as well as following your recommended treatment program are the keys to long term success in treating your TMJ or jaw condition.