If you’ve ever suffered from jaw pain, you know how irritating it can be. Perhaps you’ve tried trips to the dentist, mouth guards, and even have avoided eating certain foods to prevent irritation. But have you ever considered visiting the chiropractor?
When patients describe having jaw pain, they’re often describing pain caused by the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint connects your skull to your jaw bone, and involves the muscles needed for opening and closing your mouth. Within the joint is a small cartilage disc (similar to those found in your spine), which is responsible for smooth jaw movement. As your mouth opens and closes, the disc and joint act like a hinge, allowing you to talk, chew, and yawn.
But like any other joint in the body, the TMJ can begin to cause pain and discomfort when it isn’t working properly. The surrounding muscles can get tight and stiff and the disc can be misaligned within the joint, all causing the smooth motion of the joint to be disrupted, leading to temporomandibular joint disfunction (TMD). Teeth grinding, nail biting, gum chewing, arthritis, and even stress can all lead to TMD, and often cause to popping or clicking of the jaw, tender muscles, and/or the inability to fully open your mouth. Over time, this can lead to headaches, neck pain, and even ringing in the ears.
Despite its complexity, TMD and its associated symptoms can be managed and helped with various treatments. Your dentist may fit you with a mouth guard to prevent grinding, and you may find it helpful to eat softer foods and avoid chewing gum. Chiropractic care can also be very effective for treating TMJ problems. Muscle work can be done to release tight jaw muscles, including those on the inside of the cheeks, and gentle adjustments of the TMJ can help the disc become realigned between the jaw and skull. Patients often see an immediate change with their ability to open and close their mouth after an adjustment. Exercises and gentle stretches may also be prescribed to help patients care for their TMD at home between visits.
If you or someone you know is suffering from jaw pain, or for more information on our treatment for TMD, contact us today.