Do you suffer from jaw pain, discomfort, or soreness coupled with headaches, earaches, or pain in your face or behind the eyes? Does your jaw click, pop, or lock, resulting in limited motion, difficulty in opening or closing, or teeth misalignment? If so, these could be signs of a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), and one effective solution is targeted chiropractic care.
Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are issues with jaw muscles, facial nerves, and temporomandibular joints (TMJs), which allow movement between the jaw and skull. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, TMDs are categorized in three ways.
According to Dr. Rick Gross of Quality Care Chiropractic, you can check “for normal mouth opening with the three-finger or -knuckle test. You should be able to open your mouth as wide as needed to fit in your own index, middle, and ring fingers or their knuckles.” If pain inhibits this, it might be time to do something.
Causes of TMDs include excessive strain on the jaw joints and muscles when chewing, swallowing, and talking. Others are trauma or direct injury, involuntary and habitual teeth clenching or grinding (called bruxism), arthritis or jaw joint disk displacement, and extended dental work.
In addition to the jaw pain with internal aching and movement difficulty mentioned previously, other symptoms may include dizziness, tooth sensitivity, clenching, and grinding. Notably, fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome can overlap with, or worsen, TMD pain.
When treating TMDs, always start with the simplest methods. These include employing rest, relaxation, and stress-management techniques; eating soft foods requiring less chewing; avoiding jaw or teeth clenching; and using ice to reduce pain and inflammation. “Sometimes people simply stop or limit use of the TMJ and hope it gets better on its own,” notes Dr. Gross.
A step up is taking supplements, such as fish oil or magnesium, and/or over-the-counter medications to reduce pain and inflammation.
When those don’t work, treatments may include an orthopedic or dental mouth guard, physical therapy to reduce muscle tension and pain, chiropractic care to improve upper back and neck posture and TMJ motion, and surgery.
Surgery should be your last resort, and “chiropractic care can really help TMJ problems,” says Dr. Gross. “Chiropractors work on the body’s joints and muscles. In our practice, we directly check and adjust the TMJ, which can give patients significant relief. Typically, no other doctors mobilize or work on the TMJ to get them moving better.”
He adds, “We also work on the spinal joints of the neck, which have a strong impact on the muscles and joints connected to the TMJ. Treating the wider area gives us better results. Our goal is getting the TMJ working like it is supposed to or better than before.”
“We had a patient who was diagnosed five years ago with migraine headaches because of severe pain in his head, cheek, jaw, and neck. Pain medication gave some relief, but he had to take it daily.
“Soon after, a different doctor diagnosed him with trigeminal neuralgia, meaning that the nerve between the cheek and jaw was inflamed and irritated. That doctor gave him a different pain medication that helped for years, but again, only if he took it daily.
“He came to see us [at Quality Care Chiropractic] because that medication was no longer relieving the pain, and he was told surgery was the next step. He was terrified of that option.
“As it turns out, in his case, we discovered that the real problem was TMJ dysfunction, which had occurred after extensive dental work.
“After a single chiropractic treatment for TMJ, he was about 80% pain free and almost completely pain free after three treatments, and his jaw worked better than ever, allowing him to open and close his mouth normally without pain or severe restriction.”
Think you’re suffering from a TMD? Check out the chiropractic options and get some relief.Schedule an Appointment